Monday, May 23, 2022

A Message in Poison by BJ Magnani Book Review/Book Tour

 I received a gifted copy and am providing a review.

This book is deep, steeped in the mysteries of how poison can kill a person. As a medical transcriptionist, at least ten of those years spent as a pathology transcriptionist, I found myself being fascinated with some of the language used in this book. Even though I don’t know what all the terms mean, my own background makes me familiar with the language. While this is book #3 in the Lily Robinson series, it can be read as a standalone, though I think having read the first two would give the reader a better idea of the background of the characters.

The premise of this tale is Lily Robinson being called in to take a closer look at the death of Senator Steinman, and then also being called in to take a closer look at a high-ranking official in another country. Both deaths are shrouded in the same mystery – why, how, who? There is also quite a lot of political intrigue underlying all of these questions. There may even be just the tiniest hint of romance, just to keep things interesting.

Dr. Magnani’s experience as a “pathologist, toxicologist, chemist, author” (as taken from her website) gives all the more credence of some of the finer details between the pages of this book. If you are even remotely interested in medicine and/or political intrigue, give this one a read.


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Sunday, May 1, 2022

Under Her Care by Lucinda Berry Book Review


Publishing June 2022; not my picture. 

I received a gifted copy and am providing a review.

I am up at 4 a.m. on a Sunday morning because I cannot get this book out of my head. I went into this book without knowing what it was about because … Lucinda Berry! I’ve read all of her books, so this one has to be good, right? RIGHT! I knew I was in trouble as soon as I read the prologue … I should never start one of her books at lunchtime or in the morning before I have to start my workday. To say I was hooked is an understatement.

Annabelle – The victim in this story, the one this tale is based on.

Casey Walker – A therapist who works with children with autism spectrum disorder is called in to help with the case this story is built around. She has a daughter, Hannah, who also has ASD. Casey’s father is also involved in this tale as he helps take care of Hannah while Casey is at work, on top of which they are dealing with the loss of Casey’s mom.

Detective Layne – His title speaks for itself. He comes across as a not-so-smart detective, but that’s not true.

Genevieve Hill – What a character she is! She is the rich, I’m better than you character. Genevieve is involved in many different programs, trying to raise awareness for ASD, but there’s another side to her.

Mason – Genevieve’s son who also has ASD. Extremely important character.

Savannah – Genevieve’s estranged daughter who has issues of her own, but she’s tucked away at Ole Miss.

This book starts out with a bang and … does … not … stop. It is filled with so many twists and turns, it’ll leave your head spinning and by the time you get to the end you’ll be asking yourself what you just read, as well as why you didn’t see THAT around the corner. Not to mention what happened to John, Genevieve’s husband. That could be a story on its own. This tale is twisted on so many levels, a little dark, and a little creepy. Exactly my kind of read.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Razing Stakes by TG Wolff Book Review/Blog Tour


I received a gifted copy and am providing a review.

Razing Stakes is book 3 in the De La Cruz Case Files, but can easily be read as a standalone. I would classify this genre as a police procedural … mixed in with some very interesting characters and a couple of different story lines happening in Razing Stakes.

Let me introduce you to Detective Jesus De La Cruz who starts out this story with a hit-and-run, the victim being Colin McHenry. While working to solve this case, Detective De La Cruz is called to the mayor’s office to work on a “special project.” Let me also introduce you to his girlfriend, Aurora Williams. She is a schoolteacher who happens to be suspended from her job. While suspended, she is temporarily working as a bartender and a freelance artist. Let me also introduce you to De La Cruz’s best friend, another detective, Matt Yablonski, and his wife Erin (who also happens to be Aurora’s best friend). With the main story, there is an underlying story involving Yablonski being involved in some other undercover work and there were some seriously bad dudes out for his blood. There are quite a few other characters in this tale that lend to the story in their own ways. Not to mention the romance between De La Cruz and Aurora (she calls him Zeus).

If you enjoy police procedurals, I am quite certain you will enjoy Ms. Wolff’s writing style. It is easy to follow and, in this particular book, I found it interesting the way in which she tied all of the stories together. I also enjoyed her portrayal of De La Cruz’s family relationships, as well as the Williams’ family relationships. Oh, and who can resist a book with a line like this: “Monday morning decided to come early again.” Another favorite line: “There is never enough cheesecake.” I think some of us can relate to these sentiments. The theme throughout: “Happy hunting, Detective.”


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Wednesday, April 27, 2022

The House Guest by Hank Phillippi Ryan Cover Reveal



THE HOUSE GUEST by Hank Phillippi Ryan, publishing February 7, 2023. Check this out:  

Another diabolical cat-and-mouse thriller from USA Today bestselling author Hank Phillippi Ryan—but which character is the cat, and which character is the mouse?  

After every divorce, one spouse gets all the friends. What does the other one get? If they’re smart, they get the benefits. Alyssa Macallan is terrified when she’s dumped by her wealthy and powerful husband. With a devastating divorce looming, she begins to suspect her toxic and manipulative soon-to-be-ex is scheming to ruin her—leaving her alone and penniless. And when the FBI shows up at her door, Alyssa knows she really needs a friend.    

And then she gets one. A seductive new friend, one who’s running from a dangerous relationship of her own. Alyssa offers Bree Lorrance the safety of her guest house, and the two become confidantes. Then—Bree makes a heart-stoppingly tempting offer. Maybe Alyssa and Bree can solve each other’s problems.   

But no one is what they seem. And the fates and fortunes of these two women twist and turn until the shocking truth emerges: You can’t always get what you want. But sometimes you get what you deserve.  

You can pre-order right now--here are all the links.   

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Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Rock-A-Bye Baby by Luke Murphy Book Review


This is the second book in Mr. Murphy’s Charlene Taylor series. I read this right after reading the first one, Kiss & Tell, to see if his characters and tone carried over. I was not disappointed.

This tale picks right up after the first book, after Detective Taylor has come off of her previous three cases as well as dealing with her father’s death, her mandated time off. She decided to go see her sister, Jane, in Colorado. While there, she meets Matt, a Fed, and they end up working together on this baby case. Admittedly, the Feds were hesitant to let an LAPD detective on their turf, but due to circumstances, they felt Charlene could be a big help to them. As per her usual, Charlene found herself immersed in this case.

This book contains what I would expect in a police procedural – a case that is never-ending and seems to be unsolvable; a love interest (adding interest to the tale); families that are disrupted because of the particular crime; a carryover case from years prior; red herrings that lead the reader down one path only to find they are veering off onto another; an ending that makes the reader go “huh, there’s a twist for ya.” As well as a final sentence that lends to another story in book three.

Again, Mr. Murphy is one to watch through his writing career. To quote Steve Berry, “Murphy has the touch.”

I am curious now to read his Calvin Watters series.


Kiss & Tell by Luke Murphy Book Review


I know I have said this before, but one of the best things about reading is discovering new authors. Such is the case with Mr. Murphy whom I can across on Twitter. For a new author, having written only six (I believe) books, I am impressed with his writing style and ability to tell a story.

Charlene Taylor always knew she wanted to be a cop. She was, after all, her daddy’s girl, the boy he never had. Charlene also has a close personal relationship with the bottle. Her drinking habit fills her with self-loathing, which makes her a likable character, a believable character.

In this tale, Charlene is finally promoted to a detective in the Homicide-Robbery division, which has been her goal. She finds herself in a man’s world, having the need to prove herself. The HR unit is working on the Celebrity Slayer case, her own father’s case, as well as the case of a murdered professor.

Charlene Taylor – Female detective working in a male-dominated world, filled with self-loathing. A relatable character.

Martin Taylor – Charlene’s dad.

Brenda Taylor – Charlene’s mom.

Jane – Charlene’s sister.

Larry Baker – Charlene’s new partner in Robbery-Homicide; also, her dad’s former partner.

Their Team – Berkley, Harris, Brady.

Their Cases – Domestic call (little girl, Lauren), Celebrity Slayer, Professor case.

Captain – Ronald Dunbar.

Andy – Charlene’s on again/off again boyfriend.

This is book one in Mr. Murphy’s Charlene Taylor series. After reading this one, I moved right into book two, Rock-A-Bye Baby. I was interested to see if his tone carried over into this second book. It did.

Normally, I do not compare one author to another, because I believe every author has a voice, but I feel compelled to compare Mr. Murphy to one of my favorite ladies, Danielle Girard, her Schwartzman series, in the sense they both have strong female detectives in their stories. I plan to read Mr. Murphy’s second series, Calvin Watters, and look forward to following his writing career over the years. In my estimation, he is one to watch as I suspect his writing ability is only going to get better as he continues in his career.

Hush by Kate White Book Review


Lake, isn’t that an interesting name for a character? Lake is the owner of a business that helps companies with their marketing strategies. She finds herself with a new client, the Advanced Fertility Center. The more Lake spends time at the clinic doing research to see how she can best help them, the more she uncovers. The more she uncovers about the clinic, the more odd things start happening to her. She thinks she’s beginning to go a bit crazy and wonders if the odd happenings have to do with her almost ex-husband, Jack. Enter Dr. Keaton, the handsome doctor who is signing on with the fertility clinic. A little harmless flirting can’t hurt, right? Her lawyer warns her not to do anything untoward that could hurt her chances in her custody battle with Jack. Lake does everything she can to heed his advice. But what about all these strange happenings? What are they related to – her pending divorce or what she is discovering about the clinic? Who can she trust?

I applaud Ms. White in writing about a subject that could be quite emotionally triggering for some readers. I applaud Ms. White also in doing her research on this particular subject matter. As a medical transcriptionist, I found myself quite intrigued with this story line. The way the story lines blend together and the situations Lake finds herself in make for a page-turning tale. This particular book published in 2010, but if you are a Kate White fan and haven’t read this one yet, give it a go. Let me know what you think.


The Trophy Wife by Sunday Tomassetti Book Review


Cate Cabot works in a high-end antique store, but she lives in a lower-end apartment outside of Palm Shores. She enjoys her job, enjoys most of the people she encounters who wander into the shop. She was quite surprised when Odessa befriended her. Cate became obsessed with Odessa.

Enter Odessa DuVernay. A well-to-do client who befriends Cate, even though Cate doesn’t do friends, doesn’t allow herself to get close to anybody, and it’s against store policy to fraternize with the customers.

Amada, Cate’s coworker.

Margaret and Elinor, Cate’s employers and owner of Smith + Rose (where Cate works).

Zsofia, the adopted daughter of the DuVernays.

Charles and Aviva DuVernay. The parents.

Aviana DuVernay, the daughter.

Sean, Cate’s boyfriend. Making Cate wonder how she got so lucky that he sticks around.

I had an ohmigosh moment when I got to the end of this book. I am a huge Minka Kent “fan,” and I had no idea that she wrote this book as Sunday Tomassetti. Have you ever had one of those moments? Where an author you enjoy has written under a pen name and you had no clue? I just want to buy “all the books now.” This read will have you turning pages until you get to the very end and give you that “I never saw that coming” feeling. If other books written under the Sunday Tomassetti pen name are anything like The Trophy Wife … we are all in for a treat!


Monday, April 18, 2022

Never Coming Home by Hannah Mary McKinnon


I received a copy from NetGalley and am providing a review. Publishing May 24, 2022. Not my picture.

Lucas – the main character you will like and then dislike and then like again. The like centers around his apparent caring for his dad. The dislike stems from Lucas wanting to get rid of everyone around him, his wife, his mother-in-law, his brother-in-law, even his neighbors Diane and Karina. Lucas also has a sense of humor.

Michelle – Lucas’s wife. Rich to boot.

Nora – Lucas’s mother-in-law. Terminal illness.

Travis – Lucas’s brother-in-law. Drug addict because this story needs one.

Diane and Karina – the neighbors. As it happens, Diane is the hospice care worker assigned to Nora. Karina, by profession, is an outstanding makeup artist.

Roger – Lucas’s dog. A mutt really. Roger is an important character in this tale.

This is a quite humorous tale that Ms. McKinnon has written from Lucas’s perspective. In some parts, I found myself not liking Lucas very much, the lengths he went to just to cover his tracks. In some parts, I found myself liking Lucas, the way he cares about his dad and Roger, his mutt dog. Not to mention the hilariousness of all the little things that were happening to him. All of these characters together make this a page-turning book. I admit it took me two starts, but once I started reading this story, I wanted to keep on reading to see what happened. I wasn’t disappointed.


Sunday, April 10, 2022

Missing Parts by Lucinda Berry Book Review


Hats off to Ms. Berry. She is not one to shy away from sensitive topics. Such is the case in this book, Missing Parts. This is a tale of Celeste and David and their daughter, Aurora (whom they called Rori). When Celeste became pregnant with Rori, David was ecstatic, Celeste not so much … because of something that happened on That Night. That Night haunts Celeste, but she has done a pretty good job of burying the memories. It was decided that David would be a stay-at-home dad and Celeste would return to work. Rori is a little four-year-old girl who gets extremely sick and ends up in the hospital. The truth that surfaces while the doctors try to find out the exact cause of Rori’s illness rocks David’s world and shatters Celeste, not because of any maternal feelings toward Rori but because her secret has finally come to light. A secret that she now has to deal with, be honest about, and she takes off because of David’s anger.

A year later, after being on the run, Celeste (by then having people call her Sarah) meets up with Joe. Joe is a solid guy and through his friendship Celeste decides she needs to face up to the truth of her actions, turn herself in, rekindle things with David, it that is even possible. She returns to Los Angeles to do just that, only to find out she’s not a wanted criminal, she is only listed as a missing person. She does meet with David a couple of times as well as her best friend, Robin. Those meetings did not go as Celeste had hoped. The good thing that came out of Celeste’s return to Los Angeles was being reunited with her mother who Celeste had promised never to hurt, because of past experiences, but in her running she managed to do just that.

I devoured this book in a day. I just kept turning the pages to see how the truth would be revealed and if the scenes portrayed were actually what happened or an effect of Celeste’s paranoia while she was running. I do want to warn readers, though, that this may be a triggering book for those who have experienced rape and a child born from that horrid experience. I also want to warn readers that Ms. Berry cuts into the true emotions of what some women may feel about their own children, whether from rape or just not having a mothering instinct. I believe this book is Ms. Berry’s way of reaching out to those women, letting them know they are heard, letting them know it’s okay to feel this way, letting them know they are seen, letting them know they are not bad people. Letting them know they will be okay.

The Secrets You Keep by Kate White Book Review


Bryn and Guy have been married for a short two years. They started out with a commuter relationship until Bryn had an accident and decided to spend time recovering in Saratoga, to also be closer to Guy. Things were going well … until they weren’t. Bryn was thinking perhaps her bad dreams were trying to tell her something. The more she picked at finding the truth, the more odd things began to happen, the more she was discovering about her husband. Not in a good way, either. Guy encouraged her to make friends with the other women in the neighborhood, but did she really want that connection? Could she trust these women? They didn’t all seem bad to her, but they sure were gossips! And that is the last thing Bryn wanted. She wanted to get back to her writing, to get back to being the person she used to be. Why was Guy suddenly being so mysterious and standoffish? Why couldn’t he even look her in the eye to answer a simple question? What was he hiding?

This is a tantalizing tale that takes the reader on the path of Bryn’s learning about her husband. At first, Bryn seems to be a meek female, a dependent female, but as it turns out she has more strength than even she gives herself credit for. There is also a hint of a new romance that starts to bud. And the women in this tale? They are gossips! This book published in 2017, but if you like Kate White in general, get this one. I devoured this 353-page book in a day. I kept turning pages because I wanted to know the answers, the why behind all the secrets, and, of course, whodunnit.


I Don't Forgive You by Aggie Blum Thompson


Another author to add to your list of go-to authors, especially if all of her other books are as enticing as this one. Allie and her husband, Mark, have moved to small town suburbia, thinking it would be a good move for them. A little flirting at a neighborhood party and boom! The man ends up dead. Of course, there is a neighborhood Facebook page. Of course, there is speculation. Of course, there is a picture of Allie and this Rob dude talking at the party. Of course, what Rob said to Allie at the party made her think twice about this move – how could he have known? She wasn’t even on Tinder! Mark wants to believe what Allie is telling him, but all the clues that are interspersed are not lending very well to Allie’s innocence. And, don’t forget the neighborhood gossips, they are not helping Allie’s situation. It becomes so bad for Allie that she is finally fired from her job. She is frazzled at the drop of a hat, but she wants to remain calm, cool, and collected for her son’s sake (Cole, he’s five and he picks up on everything!). She elicits the help of one of the teen boys in the neighborhood, who everyone thinks is a bit off to begin with, and people warned her away from him. With his help, she is led down a path that really throws her off her game. It’s the person she thought it was but not the right answer. When she does find the right path and does finally start putting the pieces together …

I really enjoyed this read. It has everything I like in a “psychological thriller.” A marriage on the brink of ending. Neighborhood gossips who only fuel the fire. A trail of crumbs that has the reader guessing as to who the bad guy is … and the reader ends up wrong! Another crumb leading down another path that is … wrong. A secret past that is finally revealed in the end. I am looking forward to exploring more of Ms. Thompson’s books. I suspect they will be just as delectable as this one.

The Sixes by Kate White Book Review

Do you like a story that is drenched in mean girlness? Then this is the book for you! Phoebe Hall has been accused of plagiarism, so she moves to the small town of Lyle, Pennsylvania, to get her life back on track and to let the rumors cool down before she goes back to her writing. Her good friend, Glenda, offered her the job at the small college. While there, Glenda also asked Phoebe to quietly look into this supposed college group of girls, they called themselves The Sixes. The thing is, the more questions Phoebe asked the more silent people became, the more odd things kept happening. The more she dug, the more scared she became. She then meets this other teacher, Duncan, should she trust him? She also crosses paths with Hutch, who was the security guard at the time The Sixes began making their presence known.

Of course, what story would be complete without the main character’s past coming up to haunt her … in real life form, in the form of the reporter who wrote the plagiarism story. The ex-boyfriend who surfaces for a minute. And, somehow, Phoebe finds herself adopting a dog (there has to be some good amongst all the bad, right?). The question is – do The Sixes exist or is this some made up group of girls? And, another question is, what is really going on at the college? Is Phoebe really ever going to move on from what happened in the past? A past so secret she thought was hidden, or was it?

This book was originally published back in 2011 in hardcover with the paperback coming out in 2012. If you are a Kate White fan and haven’t read this one, I encourage you to do so. The way Ms. White is able to tell a story in the present and tie it in with Phoebe’s past and who the bad guy is … I was taken by this tale of mystery, a bit of romance, a few murders just to spice things up, and some bullying (as we would call it today) … the rats were a bit creepy. I will be looking into reading more of Ms. White’s older works; she has definitely made it to my go-to author list.



Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Big Little Secrets by A.B. Whelan Book Review


I received a gifted copy and am providing a review. Publishing April 26, 2022. Cover picture provided by Ms. Whelan.

Nelli and Clint’s tale is going to take you on an intense ride, at least it did me. Clint has a very domineering boss, Don, who didn’t understand why Clint felt the need to rush to Hungary to find his wife. In the end, Clint did just that … went to Hungary to find Nelli. He hadn’t heard from her and that was unlike her. He enlisted the help of his brother, Kenneth, affectionately called Barn (a very interesting character). There, they met Nelli’s high school friends, Daniel being one of them who also served as their interpreter as they couldn’t understand Hungarian. All Clint wanted to do was find Nelli and bring her home, but he discovered so much more.

Again, I found this to be an exceptionally intense read. The reader gets the sense of what it was like in Hungary twenty years ago and what it is like today. There are some things that happen in this tale that I was not expecting. There was one loose end that I was thinking wasn’t going to be answered but it was, and that truth was totally unexpected.

I Heard You Scream by Emerald O'Brien Book Review


I received a gifted copy and am providing a review. Releasing April 21, 2022. Cover picture provided by Ms. O’Brien.

Chelsea (Chels) meets Lennox and John at a Halloween party none of them really wanted to be at, a chance meeting. Lennox says they should all get together again, Chels doesn’t think that’ll happen. She is surprised when she gets a text later telling her where and when to meet again. She goes and she, Lennox, Eliana (Ellie, Lennox’s twin), John, and Morgan (Chelsea’s best friend) form a bond, a group of friends who gather, a place where they can just be themselves without judgment. The unthinkable happens and Chelsea is the one left to deal with the aftereffects.

There are other stories going on in this tale of lies. The relationship between Chelsea and Cam. The relationship between Chelsea and her brother Jordan. The relationship between Chelsea and her now best friend, Kellan. Chelsea is wanting to unburden herself and has made the conscious decision to tell the truth. And let’s not forget the tormented relationship between Morgan and Steven all those many years ago. Five long years Chelsea has held onto her secrets and when she decides to come clean more bad things start to happen.

Ms. O’Brien has created some very interesting characters and a very intriguing backstory. This is a fast-moving tale that is told the past and the present that will almost make your head spin trying to keep up with all that is going on. I was intrigued by the way all these lives blended together in the end. There is definitely an ‘I didn’t see that coming’ factor to this deadly tale.

Monday, March 28, 2022

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon Book Review


I had no idea what this book was about when I bought it as I didn’t read the blurb. I just liked the cover. I pulled it off my shelf the other day to give it a read. I will admit that I was not immediately pulled into this story, it took a few pages but when I did finally “get” into the story, I didn’t want to put it down.

Helen and Nate decided to quit their jobs in their quest for a simpler life. They bought a property out in the sticks … the property sitting next to a bog and a whole lot of wildlife. Helen, by profession, was a history teacher, and Nate absolutely loved exploring the outdoors … so much so he would keep journals and draw pictures of the wildlife, take pictures. While they were building their dream home, their temporary residence was a beat-up, leaky roofed, tin trailer. Through the house building venture, they met their closest neighbor, a teen girl named Olive. Little did they know that the property they purchased was haunted by the ghost of Hattie Breckenridge, or at least that was town legend, which Nate really did not buy into … until he did.

This is definitely an interesting tale of strange things happening to a couple who were least expecting the town to be so against them. There is also the intertwining tale of what happened to Olive’s mother … the truth of what happened to her, not the conjecture that the town still talked about all these years later.

I think this tale also might be considered in the paranormal genre. Overall, I enjoyed this tale of Hattie’s ghost coming to life through the eyes of Helen. And the ending … that was an unexpected surprise.

Tell me, do you believe in ghosts?


The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle Book Review


I am late to the party on this one. I’ve seen rave reviews about this book all across social media … they aren’t kidding. What a good read! I very rarely read blurbs so I went into this book with no expectations and didn’t even know what it was about other than what the title leads one to believe.

Iris and Will have been happily married for seven years. There is a plane crash. Suddenly Iris’s world has come crashing down around her and she is left to pick up the pieces. At Will’s memorial service, she meets a friend of his, Corban, whom she has never heard of. Iris also has a twin brother, Dave. He won’t let her go gallivanting across the country to find answers, not without him. Dave also doesn’t think it’s a good idea. He thinks Iris should deal with her grief as best as any widow can and start putting her life back together. Iris starts to receive mysterious messages on her phone, but who are they from? While she is in Seattle, she starts to uncover pieces of Will’s life … pieces he never shared with her. The question is why? What led him to be so secretive?

This is certainly a carefully crafted tale with intertwining relationships between all of the characters in this story. I believe Ms. Belle has nailed the portrayal of Iris’s grief and disbelief at finding answers to her questions. While this book published in December 2016, I highly recommend it. It may even be one you put on your shelf to re-read at some point. It will certainly have you turning pages to find out what happens in the end. I know I stayed up past my bedtime to finish it!


Lying Next To Me by Gregg Olsen Book Review


On a recent trip to Oregon, my husband and I listened to Mr. Olsen’s book, If You Tell, a compelling listen if you like audio books. I decided to give another of Mr. Olsen’s books a try. Lying Next To Me did not disappoint. If I had more time, I suspect I could have finished this one in a day.

The webs people weave in their lives and the lies they tell along the way … how they keep them straight I do not know. In this tale, we find Adam and Sophie Warner and daughter, Aubrey, along with another couple, Kristen and Connor Moss. Surprisingly, these two couples took a Memorial Day weekend trip to the same place, that being Hood Canal in Washington State. Unfortunately, one of these folks did not return home. The question is, what really happened to Sophie? In this tangled web of lies and deceit, a Mason County detective, one Lee Husemann, is called to the scene. As it turns out, she has a past experience with Adam and, even grown-up, she cannot reconcile the man he’s become to the teen she once knew.

There are actually quite a few stories going on this tale: Adam and Sophie Warner and their troubled marriage, until Aubrey comes along. Kristen and Connor’s struggle with infertility. The relationship between Lee and her partner, Montrose, and Montrose’s struggle with a debilitating diagnosis. Lee and Adam’s past tied to her brother, Kip. Adam’s relationship with his boss. And a few other minor characters thrown in the mix.

I know that I will be reading more of Mr. Olsen’s work. He has a way of storytelling that draws the reader in, and I suspect this carries through to the rest of his work.


Layla by Colleen Hoover Book Review


I heard a lot about this book through social media outlets and decided to give it a read. What can I say about Layla? Good read! Apparently, this would fall into the paranormal genre, but man what a story Layla has to tell you! I actually found myself chucking in a couple of places with the antics of the spirit portrayed throughout this tale.

Ms. Hoover has done an excellent job of telling the tales of Leeds and Layla. When they first met, it was the traditional love-at-first-sight kind of meeting which neither of them was expecting. The only downside was Leeds was in a band and would be leaving the next day. They actually met at Layla’s sister’s wedding (Aspen is her name) … by the pool of all places. Needless to say, they were inseparable from that day forward. So, not only is the reader entertained with a misplaced spirit but also a love story. And then there’s Sable, Leeds’ ex-girlfriend.

I don’t want to say too much about the story because I don’t want to give any of it away. Suffice it to say, if you like Ms. Hoover’s writing and you like a good paranormal tale, this will fit the bill and then some.

My favorite quote from this book: “Tacos can excuse a lot of bad decisions.” Why yes, yes they can.


Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Crooked Prayers by Mike Donohue Book Review


I had the opportunity to proof this book for Mr. Donohue, and I am providing a review. Picture provided by Mr. Donohue.

Max is back! What adventures is he up to in book #6? Does he save another damsel in distress? Book #6 is like getting two books in one, with some answers that have been long awaited.

If you have read the first five books in this series, you’ll know that Max has long since had questions about his past, his parents, what really happened. In this tale, we learn some answers that Max has been searching for. Not necessarily the answers he was hoping for but answers all the same. The crux of this tale revolves around some fantastical science, that of Dactyls, that can apparently heal a person’s injuries from the inside out, plus mess with one’s mind. Not to mention the trouble that has apparently followed Max to the town he’s currently in, minding his own business. In true Max fashion, his past follows him. There are at least four stories intertwined in this tale.

Mr. Donohue fills this tale with reminders of things long past, a rotary phone, a phone booth on the corner … relevant to the time of the story line. With the ending setup for Max’s next adventure. One thing I truly enjoy about Mr. Donohue’s writing is his imagery. He has a way of describing scenes that make you feel like you’re there or pull up a memory from long ago.

I highly recommend you read this series in order: Shaking the Tree, Bottom of the World, Hollow City, Trouble Will Find Me, Burn the Night, Crooked Prayers. Prequels: Sleeping Dogs and The Devil’s Angel. Short story collection: October Days.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Someone Had To Die by Jack Luellen Book Review


I received a gifted copy and am providing a review.

James Butler, an attorney, has been very interested in the case of a DEA agent, one Special Agent Enrique Camarena, who was killed in 1985. Mr. Butler was so interested in this case that he began his own investigation, on his own time, with the support of the law firm he worked at. He enlisted the help of Erica Walsh, the paralegal at the firm, who also happens to be the daughter of the firm’s owner, Brian. While Brian is not instrumental in Mr. Butler’s investigation, he didn’t stop it and supported their efforts. During the course of their investigation, Mr. Butler and Ms. Walsh began to uncover some information that was either overlooked or buried so deep in the documents they found that people started surfacing … shady people … who didn’t want the truth uncovered. There are quite a few characters in this book which sometimes makes it hard to keep up with, but they are all vital to this story. There may even be just the tiniest hint at a budding romance.

The things I appreciate about this book:

It is Mr. Luellen’s first book … the ending leads me to believe Mr. Butler and Ms. Walsh will be having another adventure. It will be interesting to see what these two stumble upon next.

It is written with heart. By that I mean, I can tell by the tone that Mr. Luellen has spent many, many hours, months, maybe even a year or two researching this book, believing in his book.

The fact that it is so well researched lends more to the factual storyline. If you like history based on happenings in the US, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this read.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby Book Review


I have been wanting to read this book ever since I’ve seen it on social media, and also since I’ve read “Blacktop Wasteland.” At long last … I have now read this book and devoured it in its entirety in two days. Yeah, I thought it was that good.

This is a story of two dads losing their sons. This is a story of two dads finally coming to grips with their sons’ sexuality, of their sons’ happiness with each other. This is a story of a Black man and a white man coming together to find out the truth about what happened to their sons. A story about how it is for a Black man to live in the world (sad to say) and a story of a white man learning how it is to be a Black man. A story of two men who have served time in prison and come out trying to make a better live for themselves. There is so much more going on in this tale.

It is real. It is honest.

Mr. Cosby has a way of describing things in this book that make them all the more real … just like he did in “Blacktop Wasteland.” If you have been wanting to read this book, I highly encourage you to do so. This one is going back on my shelf to be read again.

The Stillwater Girls by Minka Kent Book Review


Wren and Sage don’t know any other life than the one they have lived in a cabin with Mama and Evie. Mama and Evie haven’t returned yet. Mama told them not to leave the cabin. Mama told them if they go outside not to go past the tree line. Mama told them Evie was sick and she needed to take her and find her help. Mama would sometimes disappear on her own but would always come back with a wagon full of supplies from the Supply Man. Mama told them a lot of things. Mama was wrong.

Can you imagine living out in the middle of what is supposedly nowhere … not knowing there was a better life, a better way of doing things? Can you also imagine being the wife of a rich man looking out the window and thinking you see someone in your driveway? Can you imagine what you might think when two ragamuffin girls knock on your door after stumbling out of the woods?

While reading this book, I was beginning to wonder how these two stories were going to intersect and when they did, it all made perfect sense. Ms. Kent has done an outstanding job of bringing these two stories together, bringing these two families together in a way that will have you shaking your head. The final truth is revealed in the end.

I have now officially read all of Ms. Kent’s books!

Verity by Colleen Hoover Book Review


I have to admit, I don’t understand what all the hype is about. I don’t really know how I feel about this book. I think it is one of those that falls into the category of – you’ll either like it or you won’t.

I think it’s dark. I think it can somehow be considered sexy on some level. It is brutally honest in some spots, though those spots can also be tearjerkers and cause some “how could she do that” moments. It is full of F-bombs, but I think that is appropriate to the context.

I also think it is a good indication of how versatile Ms. Hoover can be as a writer. Not being a writer myself, I don’t know what it takes to come up with good stories. Maybe she is right, in that you have to go to the darker side of oneself to draw out what makes a good character.

I still don’t know how I feel about this book.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Privacy by Nina Sadowsky Book Review


I received a gifted copy and am providing a review. Picture provided by Ms. Sadowsky. Publishing June 2022.

I know I have said this before, but one of the cool things about being a reader is discovering new authors. Such is the case with Ms. Sadowsky and the first book I have read by her, Privacy.

I enjoyed this book on my different levels. The characters: Laina the psychiatrist who is trying to solve her patients’ problems and feeling like a failure. Cal Murray, the “cub reporter,” who is always on the search for a bigger, better story to land himself a job as an anchorman. Cop Cal, Cal Murray’s cop friend who gives him tidbits. Laina’s patients themselves who each are faced with their own set of difficulties. Even “creepy scarf guy” adds to this story. Vanessa, Laina’s lawyer and best friend. Bex, Laina’s other best friend. Harley Weida, Laina’s business partner who is harboring a secret all his own that he holds over Laina.

While some of these characters have what you might call “bit” parts, they all lend to making this story relatable, easy to read, and an “oh, I didn’t see that coming” ending.

Ms. Sadowsky also subtly tackles a racial issue in this tale that, unfortunately, still exists today. She handled this eloquently and it only adds to the story with a very subtle message. She even threw in a budding romance!

The thing I enjoyed most about Privacy is the way Ms. Sadowsky dropped clues that led me down a path, only to be diverted to go off in another direction. And the ending? Be sure to get your copy of Privacy when it publishes in June 2022.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Deconstructed by Liz Talley Book Review


I received a gifted copy and am providing a review. (Not my picture.)

This is the first book I have read by Ms. Talley. Talk about a fun read! I look forward to reading more from this very talented lady. She is able to take some pretty serious subjects and write about them with a sense of humor but also with a sense of realism, making you feel like her characters are people you know. In this tale you will find infidelity, a family that is on the ‘fringe,’ and a couple of ladies who ‘deconstruct’ their lives only to rebuild themselves into the people they want to be. This is one of those books that you’ll want to keep on your shelf to read when you need a good laugh.

Cricket, the owner of Printemps (an antique store), finds herself at a loss as to what to do when she finds out her husband, Scott, is cheating on her. She also then finds out that he may be holding onto another secret, one that she thinks could potentially be dangerous. She elicits the help of Ruby, a clerk at her store, for help and discovers a friendship with Ruby she didn’t think possible.

Ruby, having served a couple of years in jail, is surprised when she gets a job at Printemps. She is a member of the Balthazar family … a family on the ‘fringe.’ Through this tale, Ruby not only finds a friend in Cricket, but has the realization that her family isn’t as bad as she makes them out to be. Ruby is also a very talented ‘re-purposer’ of old clothes.

You will also be introduced to Juke, Griff, Gran, Julia Kate, Stephanie, Jade, Marguerite, Ed Earl, Dak, and a few other characters thrown in for good measure. Each of these characters have their own backstory, some of them changing their lives for the better. There is even a bit of romance thrown in just to make things interesting.

Monday, January 31, 2022

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty Book Review


This is the first book I have read by Ms. Moriarty. I enjoyed it! While there are some triggering subjects contained within these pages (domestic violence and bullying), there is also an underlying theme of friendship and a hint of romance.

Jane has just moved to Pirriwee with her son, Ziggy, and has enrolled him in kindergarten. Jane is one of those women who isn’t quite sure of herself and prefers to fade into the background. She finds herself becoming friends with Madeline and Celeste, Madeline not being afraid to speak her mind and Celeste seeming to have more on her mind than anyone knows.

Madeline is married to Ed, a laidback easygoing gentleman. Madeline’s ex-husband is Nathan who is now married to Bonnie, the hippie chick. Nathan and Madeline have a daughter, Abigail. Madeline and Ed have two children, Fred and Chloe.

Celeste is married to Perry. They have twin boys, Max and Josh. Behind the closed doors of their home, there was a darker secret that no one knew about.

Renata’s little girl is Amabella. Amabella plays a significant role in the telling of this tale.

There are other characters intermixed in this tale who all add to the story. There is a bit of humor interlaced between the chapters tying everything together about what happened on “the trivia night,” yet the subjects contained within these pages are taken seriously. These subjects are also written in such a way as to be not too heavy, with the focus of the story being what happened on “the trivia night.” I also appreciated the snippets from the police investigation, but the reader is not immersed in tedious details.

I found this to be a fun yet serious read. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Moriarty.

When I Was You by Minka Kent Book Review


Brienne, Kate, Niall, Sam, the main characters.

Enid, the nosy neighbor. Every story needs one.

Brian, the annoying co-worker.

What a tangled web that Ms. Kent has woven with these four main characters. This story is told in two voices, those of Brienne and Niall. Brienne suffered a brutal attack a few months ago that left her scared of being alone. Enter Niall, the man who answered her roommate ad. Having Niall in her house, the one her grandmother left to her, made Brienne feel safer, made her feel not as ‘crazy.’ One day, Brienne went snooping through Niall’s room because what did she really know about him? Turns out doing so led her down a path that she least expected. 

This is an entertaining tale of cat-and-mouse, but who is the cat and who is the mouse? Some may even say this tale is a bit twisted with the connection between two of the characters that only one knew about. Ms. Kent continues to be one of my go-to authors and I am never disappointed.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover Book Review


I was fortunate enough to win this book through a Facebook giveaway hosted by Kim Law. This is also the first book I have read by Ms. Hoover.

I found this book to be a compelling read and after reading Ms. Hoover’s message in the back, I understand why. Ms. Hoover has not just written a made-up story, she based this story on fact, on what she saw as a child growing up. I applaud that. Her experience makes this a very believable story and, on a personal note, coming from a mentally/emotionally abusive experience, I found myself relating to Lily. I am also putting a trigger warning on this book regarding domestic violence. If you have experienced that you may find this a hard book to read.

There are also some underlying messages within these pages. There is a childhood friendship that became everlasting, even though time and distance separated them. There is healing. There is forgiveness. There are new friendships developed. There is a deeper understanding from a daughter’s perspective as to what her mom went through and why she stayed. More importantly, there is the message of breaking the cycle that we sometimes find ourselves in.

It is very easy to say what you would do if you were in certain situations. The thing is, we really don’t know what we would do. As an outsider looking in, it is easy to make judgment calls. As the person in the situation, we can’t see it until we reach our limit. We don’t consciously know what our limits are until we reach them, then we know what to do. It’s like some lightbulb goes off, like we finally reach our ‘naked truth’ and then we can walk away.

For everyone who has found the strength to leave an abusive relationship, I commend you. Through this book, Ms. Hoover has proven that you have value and more importantly that you are seen and heard. Well done, Ms. Hoover, well done.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

The Secrets of Cedar Farm by Carissa Ann Lynch Blog Tour


Title: The Secrets of Cedar Farm

Author: Carissa Ann Lynch

Series: Standalone

Genre: Psychological Thriller 





Behind every family is a story.

But some stories are darker than others.

Norah Campbell was an addict. The loss of her fiancé drove her to despair; she lost custody of her daughter, Gemma, and control of her life.

Now Norah is in recovery and she wants Gemma back. But to do so she must move in with her eccentric aunt and uncle, and they refuse to give up control without a fight. When strange occurrences keep happening at the farm and Norah makes a gruesome discovery, she soon realises she’s living with a monster.

As her mental health spirals out of control and she is tempted to relapse, she begins to wonder if she is also a monster.

This is a novel about addiction and recovery, and the strength of a mother who must fight in order to save herself and her child.


Besides my family, my greatest love in life is books. Reading them, writing them, holding them, smelling them…well, you get the idea. I’ve always loved to read, and some of my earliest childhood memories are me, tucked away in my room, lost in a good book. I received a five dollar allowance each week, and I always — always — spent it on books. My love affair with writing started early, but it mostly involved journaling and writing silly poems. Several years ago, I didn’t have a book to read so I decided on a whim to write my own story, something I’d like to read. It turned out to be harder than I thought, but from that point on I was hooked. My first and second books were released by Sarah Book Publishing: This Is Not About Love and Grayson’s Ridge. I’m a total genre-hopper. Basically, I like to write what I like to read: a little bit of everything! I reside in Floyds Knobs, Indiana with my husband, three children, and massive collection of books. I have a degree in psychology and worked as a counselor.