Book Reviews

Words Composed of Sea and Sky by Erica George

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Synopsis

Michaela Dunn dreams of getting into an art school, but when her stepfather refuses to fund a trip there for a poetry workshop, Michaela enters a local contest searching for a poet to write the dedication plaque for a statue honoring Captain Benjamin Churchill, a whaler who died at sea over one hundred years ago. While searching for clues about this Cape Cod legend, Michaela discovers the diary of Leta Townsend from 1862 and gets a glimpse of Churchill that she didn’t quite anticipate.

In 1862, Leta writes poetry under the name of Benjamin Churchill, thinking him dead after being attacked by a whale. Leta is astonished when Captain Churchill returns, completely unscathed, his death just a rumor. She quickly falls for him. But is she falling for the actual Benjamin Churchill, or the boy she constructed in her imagination?


My Review

This is a beautiful story that melds together the past and present in a Cape Cade town. It’s definitely a YA book, but I knew that going into it. Michaela, the protagonist for the current times definitely has her times where she acts like a teen. Where she thinks her step-father is against her. Hates her. Doesn’t understand her. When really it’s just a lack of communication.

That said it was nice that the characters acted their age. Michaela or Mack acted like a teenage girl. Finn definitely like a teenage boy. Especially when he gets jealous. My favorite was Mellie, Mack’s 9 year-old sister. She acted like a 9 year-old! So crazy, isn’t it!?! She didn’t act like a teen or a 5 year-old!

The story moves back and forth pretty seamlessly between current times and the mid-1800s. And both of the female protagonists from both centuries have several similarities. They are both poetry writers. And outcasts a little bit, from their peers. And even from their families, or at least they feel that way. At least until the popular boy in town starts showing them some attention. (Isn’t that horrible how that sometimes happens?) then everyone starts looking at them differently.

The ending was predictable. But the story was good and kept me engaged so I was ok with that. And I have to say I love the way the story involved historical research. Honestly, I live for that stuff so I was so fun to read about it in a book. And I loved the author’s writing style. She even knew how to make poetry enjoyable. And coming from me that is high praise.

What is your least favorite genre to read?

Thank you to the publisher for my beautiful gifted copy of the book for review.

Book Reviews

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

  • Title: The Other Black Girl
  • Author: Zakiya Dalila Harris
  • Genre: Black & African American Women’s Fiction
  • Pages: 368
  • Published: June 1, 2021
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Themes: Racism, Bullying, Microaggression,

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Synopsis

Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust.

Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.

It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career.

A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary that is perfect for anyone who has ever felt manipulated, threatened, or overlooked in the workplace, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.


My Review

This book takes you on a wild ride. It’s a slow read at the beginning but I’m glad I stuck with it because it really delivered in the end. I really didn’t see the end coming at all. And I love those kinds of books. Aren’t they the best? When those last couple of pages are a true surprise?

Here is my problem though:

During the book it talks a lot about Nella trying to bring diversity into the workplace. And when they have a Diversity Town Hall at Wagner things go downhill. When people were supposed to say words they associate with diversity Nella offers the acronym “BIPOC”. Now the white people in the office begin to offer their own examples with, “left-handedness,” “nearsightedness,” “dyslexia, and “non-millennial.” I mean seriously? This is just one of several examples of how white people are portrayed in the book. We are made to look stupid. And really unaware of anything and anyone around them.

As a white person we’ve been told and taught about racism for years. As it should be. But what about the other side? And what about just looking at people like people? Shouldn’t that really be how we see each other? When I visit other countries there isn’t this huge issue because they don’t see black, brown, white, yellow. They see people. A person. Can we please get to that point in America?

O.K. Off my soapbox. I will say that Harris did an excellent job with this as her debut book. She’s got a huge future as a writer. I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next.

What are your plans for the rest of the summer?

Book Reviews

Flowers of Darkness by Tatiana de Rosnay

  • Title: Flowers of Darkness
  • Author: Tatiana de Rosnay
  • Genre: Dystopian Fiction
  • Pages: 256
  • Published: March 12, 2020
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
  • Themes: City Life, Women’s Divorce Fiction, Science Fiction, Thriller, Suspense, Mystery

My Rating:⭐⭐⭐


Synopsis

Author Clarissa Katsef is struggling to write her next book. She’s just snagged a brand new artist residency in an ultra-modern apartment, with a view of all of Paris, a dream for any novelist in search of tranquility. But since moving in, she has had the feeling of being watched. Is there reason to be paranoid? Or is her distraction and discomfort the result of her husband’s recent shocking betrayal? Or is that her beloved Paris lies altered outside her windows? A city that will never be quite the same, a city with a scar at its center?

Stuck inside, in the midst of a sweltering heat wave, Clarissa enlists her beloved granddaughter in her investigation of the mysterious, high tech building even as she finds herself drawn back into the orbit of her first husband who is still the one who knows her most intimately, who shares the past grief that she has never quite let go.


My Review

I’m going to begin and say that Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay was a favorite for me. So I was thrilled to be gifted this beautiful book by the author and the publisher. Thank you so very much!

I’m going to be honest. Science Fiction is not a genre I will pick up for myself. But I will read it. And there have been books in this genre that I’ve loved. This book took me by surprise though. Maybe it wasn’t was I was expecting? Maybe it went from normal to too out there and surprised me. I don’t know. I think the writing was excellent. The characters were great. It might just be that this wasn’t my cup of tea.

I did love the way de Rosnay slowly peeled away the layers so we could find out what happened in the past. That alone helped to build the suspense and mystery. And then she did the same thing with the present tense. To the point where I was yelling at the book, “YOU ARE NOT OVERREACTING CLARISSA! GET OUT OF THERE!” Of course the character the character in the book didn’t listen to me. At least not for a long time. I have to say, de Rosnay is an incredible suspense author.

I will say the book was a 4.5 stars until the end. The last 25% was just too strange. I’d love to find out even from hardcore SciFi fans if they felt the same way because I just couldn’t wrap my head or heart around it. The ending is just bizarre.

If you do enjoy Science Fiction though, I would say read it. It’s a short read by a great writer. And please do let me know what you think.

Book Reviews

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Synopsis

Leah Remini has never been the type to hold her tongue. That willingness to speak her mind, stand her ground, and rattle the occasional cage has enabled this tough-talking girl from Brooklyn to forge an enduring and successful career in Hollywood. But being a troublemaker has come at a cost.

That was never more evident than in 2013, when Remini loudly and publicly broke with the Church of Scientology. Now, in this frank, funny, poignant memoir, the former King of Queens star opens up about that experience for the first time, revealing the in-depth details of her painful split with the church and its controversial practices.

Indoctrinated into the church as a child while living with her mother and sister in New York, Remini eventually moved to Los Angeles, where her dreams of becoming an actress and advancing Scientology’s causes grew increasingly intertwined. As an adult, she found the success she’d worked so hard for, and with it a prominent place in the hierarchy of celebrity Scientologists alongside people such as Tom Cruise, Scientology’s most high-profile adherent. Remini spent time directly with Cruise and was included among the guests at his 2006 wedding to Katie Holmes.

But when she began to raise questions about some of the church’s actions, she found herself a target. In the end, she was declared by the church to be a threat to their organization and therefore a “Suppressive Person,” and as a result, all of her fellow parishioners—including members of her own family—were told to disconnect from her. Forever.

Bold, brash, and bravely confessional, Troublemaker chronicles Leah Remini’s remarkable journey toward emotional and spiritual freedom, both for herself and for her family. This is a memoir designed to reveal the hard-won truths of a life lived honestly—from an author unafraid of the consequences.


My Review

I loved this book so much more than I thought I would. Leah Remini brought her humor and personality into every page. Which makes a tough subject like this so much easier to read. And it’s written as if Leah is actually talking to you. The way friends sit down and talk to each other. Friend to friend.

I don’t know about you but I’m always interested in reading about these organizations and why people get into them in the first place. Then why people stay in them. And stay in them for so many years. Leah is open and honest about all of this. And she owns where she made her own mistakes

If you want some more information about the Scientology business. (I just. Can’t. Call it a religion.) You can get Leah’s first hand knowledge of it in these pages. And she was in contact with the top. As in Tom Cruise and David Miscavige. She speaks openly of how they bring in the money. What their centers are like. She basically takes us on an inside look-see.

I’m not going to go off on a tangent and disparage Scientology. Even though there is a lot that can be said there. But I don’t think this is the place. I do think Leah said A LOT of my own feelings quite well.

This would make a great audio book with Leah narrating it. She’d be hilarious talking about her own life and all that happened. I think that’s a new must-have for me. I have to listen to the audio version of books of funny people’s biographies. It’s gotta make the book 200% better. And this book was great to begin with so that’s really saying something!!!

What biography are cracking open next?

Book Reviews

Bad Medicine: A Medical Thriller by Geoffrey M. Cooper

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


Synopsis

What can go wrong when a scientist’s career hinges on the results of a clinical trial? When Professor Brad Parker is asked to serve as interim director of the Maine Translational Research Institute, he thinks he’ll have nothing more on his hands than a messy dispute between two faculty members. But what awaits him is much worse. Rather than an ordinary academic conflict, Brad finds himself dealing with sabotage, blackmail, and the mysterious deaths of patients in a clinical trial. As Brad and his partner—FBI agent Karen Richmond—race to unravel a murderous conspiracy, they find themselves at the top of a hired killer’s list of targets.


My Review

I was wonderfully surprised when I read Bad Medicine. The book was very well researched. Not only about the world of academia, but medical research as well. You can tell the the author has some experience in this field because he gets in depth with his language and his explanations of medical terms, medicines, and procedures. But – and this is the important part – he didn’t get too technical. I, as a “normal” person who knows barely anything about medical stuff was able to keep up. So important in a book like this. And hard to write for these authors.

The storyline was pretty amazing. It kept my interest, which as we all know is the important part. Now I knew early on who was most likely behind the sabotage and other problems going on but the writing and plot still kept me absorbed. And then to top it off I was wrong about who the bad guy was. See. . . this is why you should always keep reading until the end of the book! Authors will often surprise you.

There were some things that I felt were handled kind of weird. The whole thing with Brad spending the night at Carolyn Gelman’s house was inappropriate. And the way she came into his bed? I have no words. I know the author tried to explain these actions to the readers. And make sense of them for the context of the story. Honestly though, I had a difficult time continuing the book after that time.

I did though. And as long as I forget that one case of questionable writing I really enjoyed the rest of the book. With under 250 pages its a pretty quick read and right now you can grab it for free if you have Kindle Unlimited with Amazon.

What’s your favorite kind of sub-genre under thriller?

I want to thank the author, Geoffrey M. Cooper for the gifted copy of the ebook. However, all the thoughts and ideas expressed are entirely my own.

Book Reviews

Outrageous by Minerva Spencer

  • Title: Outrageous
  • Author: Minerva Spencer
  • Genre: Historical Romance
  • Pages: 374
  • Published: June 29,2021
  • Publisher: Kensington Books
  • Series: Rebel of the Ton, Book 2

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Synopsis

When Eva de Courtney kidnaps Godric Fleming, her only plan is to stop the irritating earl from persecuting her beloved brother. But once she has the intriguing rogue in the confines of her carriage, she longs to taste the passion she senses simmering beneath his rugged exterior. Her forbidden plan is foiled, however, when Godric turns the tables, taking her hostage instead—and demanding they marry at once… 

The last thing Godric wants to do is make the fiery, impulsive Eva his wife, despite her delectable mouth and alluring innocence. He knows from experience that nothing is forever, not even love. But honor demands he do right by the lady, no matter how stubbornly Eva tries to hold on to her independence. And while the road to the Scottish border is beset with danger, Godric’s greatest challenge is to keep his hands—and his heart—from his captivating bride-to-be…


My Review

Here are 10 things I thought about the new book by Minerva Spencer. . . Outrageous:

  1. Loved the road trip romance storyline along with all the little upsets along the way. You know the stuff that HAS to happen in a historical romance. . . robbery, kidnapping, etc. The author wrote it all out beautifully and gave each storyline a great spin.
  2. Loved seeing the evolution of Eva through the book. She sees how her actions have caused problems and she tries (doesn’t always succeed) to think before doing.
  3. There was definitely some steamy scenes. So be ready for those before you begin reading.
  4. I didn’t like Godric moaning about how he was old enough to be Eva’s father one minute then undressing her the next. That was a little creepy.
  5. I liked the way the book began with the female kidnapping the male – instead of what we would normally see with the male kidnapping the female. Of course, it backfired for Eva. But that helped with the “Outrageous” story.
  6. I thought the juxtaposition between Godric’s broodiness and Eva with her pluckiness really worked.
  7. I didn’t like being reminded of Godric and Eva’s age gap so much. Honestly during these times (in 1812) a 37 year old male and a 19 year old female wouldn’t be that uncommon.
  8. Even though Eva and Godric went from enemies to lovers in such a short amount of time, Ms. Spencer made it believable with her writing and her storyline with the two characters being thrown together constantly in a carriage and small rooms day after day.
  9. The secondary characters in this book were AMAZING! Honestly they should have their own stories.
  10. Godric had a great transformation during the course of the story. Once he realized his mistakes, and forgave himself for his past, he was able to move on with his future. Kind of a lesson for all of us.

Outrageous is the 2nd book in the Rebel of the Ton series written by Minerva Spencer. It can definitely be read as a standalone. I’d suggest getting the other books in the series though. I mean look at those beautiful covers! Don’t you want those on your bookshelf?

Overall I’d recommend Outrageous to anyone who enjoys historical romance. Especially Bridgerton fans.

What’s your favorite genre to read?

Book Reviews

Between Sundays by Karen Kingsbury

  • Title: Between Sundays
  • Author: Karen Kingsbury
  • Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance
  • Pages: 298
  • Published: November 3, 2007 by Zondervan
  • Themes: Family, Faith, American Football, Second Chances, Foster Children

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Synopsis

Aaron Hill has it all—athletic good looks and the many privileges of a star quarterback. His Sundays are spent playing NFL football in front of a televised audience of millions. But Aaron’s about to receive an unexpected handoff, one that will give him a whole new view of his self-centered life.Derrick Anderson is a family man who volunteers his time with foster kids while sustaining a long career as a pro football player. But now he’s looking for a miracle. He must act as team mentor while still striving for the one thing that matters most this season—keeping a promise he made years ago.Megan Gunn works two jobs and spends her spare time helping at the youth center. Much of what she does, she does for the one boy for whom she is everything—a foster child whose dying mother left him in Megan’s care. Now she wants to adopt him, but one obstacle stands in the way. Her foster son, Cory, is convinced that 49ers quarterback Aaron Hill is his father.Two men and the game they love. A woman with a heart for the lonely and lost, and a boy who believes the impossible. Thrown together in a season of self-discovery, they’re about to learn lessons in character and grace, love and sacrifice.Because in the end life isn’t defined by what takes place on the first day of the week, but how we live it between Sundays.


My Review

Karen Kingsbury did not disappoint with this book. The two characters of Aaron Hill and Derrick Anderson were so well written. They could almost walk – or I guess I should say – throw a ball off the pages off the book. I loved that she used a real football team to place her players in rather than making one up. It makes everything seem so much more believable.

The book brings focus on to foster care. There’s even an Author’s Note and a Forward from NFL 49ers quarterback Adam Smith about how this topic became the focus of the book. Smith even has a charity with a focus on foster care – Alex Smith Foundation. Meeting Smith at a game was how Kingsbury got the idea for her book.

Anyway, the story evolved very nicely. There was some things I thought took awhile. Like Aaron and his agent. It took him a long time to see the creep for real.

The story is told through third person POV but throughout the book it switches between Aaron, Derick, Megan and Cory.

Definitely another lovely Kingsbury read. Have you read any of her books? Which ones?

Book Reviews

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Synopsis

Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her.

Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers: Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered; as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss; as a US Marshal and FBI agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.


My Review

This book gave all the feels it should for a family drama. Teen angst with the stepmom. Full on disappearance of the dad. I mean seriously. WHERE DID HE GO?!?! With mystery, some detective work and even federal agencies to round it all out.

Now I have to be honest with you. Listening to this on audio was not my smartest move. I don’t know about you but there are certain types of books that are HARD to listen to. And mysteries definitely fall into that category. There’s a lot to keep track of. And they go at a fast pace. Well, I sometimes get a little distracted while I’m listening to a book. Which is because I’m doing other stuff. Like housework, exercising, or driving. So my mind kind of wanders a little from time to time. 99% of the time I rewind because I’m just that type of girl. But there is a LOT of rewinding with intense books. One day I’ll learn to stick to ChickLits, RomComs, Romances, Historical Fictions and Christian Fiction for listening. But until I learn. . .

That said – even with the audio aspect this book definitely did not disappoint! It was really good! Usually I like everything tied up at the end of the story. And there was a couple of things that weren’t in this case. But. . . I don’t believe it was to get us to read another book in a series. It was just the way the book finished. You – as the reader – were left to ponder about a few things. Which in those cases I like. Don’t you find it pretty cool when you’re still thinking about what might’ve happened with something in a book a month later? Yep. That’s some good writing.

And I have to recommend the Audible version that I listened to which was read by Rebecca Lowman. She did a tremendous job. I hadn’t had the opportunity to hear any of her work and I’m glad I took the chance. She has a lovely voice and she was the perfect choice for this book.

This is a book which has been on everyone’s radar since it came out. It was Reese’s Bookclub pick for May 2021. It’s also being made into a movie for Apple TV starring Julia Roberts and produced by Reese Witherspoon. I cannot wait to compare the movie with the book. And like always I’ll get back to you on what I think.

Have you had a chance to read The Last Thing He Told Me yet? Or anything else by Laura Dave? I’d love to hear what you think.

Book Reviews

Anxious People by Fredrik Bachman

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Synopsis

Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix up their own marriage. There’s a wealthy banker who has been too busy making money to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world.

Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises, these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in a motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next. 


My Review

I found this book to be everything a book should be. Funny. Cute. Heartwarming. Mysterious.

Bachman did a great job of keeping some of the mystery alive until the very end. Definitely a character driven story with a large cast of people that you’ll actually get to know really well. It was enjoyable to watch the relationships grow. They were all easy to picture. And I adored getting to know the 10+ people during the course of the story.

To make things even more exciting Netflix is coming out with a series based on this very book! I can’t find a date on when it’ll be out yet – so if you have that info I’d love to get it! Everything I find just says “In Production.” When it does come out I’ll do another review to compare the book with the screen version.

Somethings to be aware of…

  • there is a lesbian couple
  • suicide is talked about
  • there is some violence – the book is about a bank robbery and hostage situation
  • adultery is referred to

I definitely loved this book. Believe it or not, it gave me all the happy feelings that I like when reading a story. And everything was wrapped up at the end – which was incredible because there was a ton of storylines going on here people.

So grab a copy. I bet ya you’ll devour it quickly.

I received this beautiful hardcover book from Book of the Month. Want to try them out? Click here and receive your first book for only $5 – Seriously! What a deal!!!

With the referral link I’ll also receive a book credit with your purchase.

Book Reviews

A Little Bit Wicked by Kristin Chenoweth and Joni Rodgers

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Synopsis

You might know her as a Tony Award-winning Broadway star, who originated the role of Galinda the Good Witch in the smash musical Wicked and won a Tony for 1999’s You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Or you may recognize her from her starring roles on TV — The West Wing, Pushing Daisies, Sesame Street…oh, and her Huge Hit Sitcom Kristin on NBC. (Huge hit. L.A. breast-implant huge. Ask either of the people who watched it.) Or maybe you saw her sexy spread in FHM magazine? Or her appearance on Pat Robertson’s The 700 Club? Kristin is a wonderful collection of contradictions — but everyone who’s ever met her remembers her as the little girl with the big voice. At four foot eleven, Kristin Chenoweth is an immense talent in a petite but powerful package.

In this lively, laugh-out-loud book, Kristin shares her journey from Oklahoma beauty queen to Broadway leading lady, reflecting on how faith and family have kept her grounded in the dysfunctional rodeo of show biz. The daughter of an engineer and a nurse, Kristin was singing in front of thousands at Baptist conventions by age twelve and winning beauty pageants by age twenty-two. (Well, actually she was second runner-up almost every freaking time. But, hey, she’s not bitter.) On her way to a career as a professional opera singer, she stopped in New York to visit a friend and went on a whim to an audition. Through a combination of talent, hard work, and (she’s quick to add) the grace of God, Kristin took Broadway by storm. But of course, into every storm, the occasional drizzle of disaster must fall.

Filled with wit, wisdom, and backstage insight, A Little Bit Wicked is long on love and short on sleep; it’s essential reading for Kristin’s legions of fans and an uplifting story for anyone seeking motivation to follow his or her dreams — over the rainbow and beyond.


My Review

Anyone who is a fan of Kristin Chenoweth should run – not walk – to get this book. The stories she told in it made me love her so much more than I already did. And I really liked her! She bared her faith, her love for her family, her love for her friends who are like her family and even her relationships. Of course she went into her work over the years. Especially her sitcom “Kristin” which was a huge hit. And I always think behind the scenes anecdotes from the entertainment industry is interesting. Yep! I’m one of those and proud of it!

I listened to my copy of this book on audio and personally I think it made the experience 100% more enjoyable. Know why? Kristin Chenoweth herself narrated it. It was heartbreaking to hear HER tell the sad stories from her life. You could actually hear her voice breaking. When things were funny. Which was a lot of times throughout her stories – we’d be treated to her giggles. And honestly she has the greatest laugh. Then at times she’d have a couple of her friends pop in to tell their side of the story or their feelings about “Kris.” Some things to be aware:

Somethings you might want to be aware of…

  • there was some talk about homosexuality
  • there was also pre-marital sex inferred

No matter how you take in this book. I do recommend that you read it. I think anyone will enjoy it. And if you’re not already a fan of hers I think once you read this you’ll be one.

I bought my audio book through Chirp Books. Go here and you can get 20% off your 1st book.

With the referral link I’ll also receive 20% off a book with your purchase.