Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Book Review: Always and Forever Lara Jean by Jenny Han


Goodreads Overview:

And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.

Life couldn’t be more perfect!

At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks . . . until she gets some unexpected news.

Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Jacque's Review:

Overall I enjoyed the book and this series, but there was a lot of unnecessary drama that I think could and should have been avoided. Maybe it is because I am quite a bit older than the average YA reader, but I found some of Lara Jean and Peter's actions and decisions to be extremely immature in this book. I get the fact that the author needed some tension in the story and that an over the top happily ever after probably wasn't what she was going for, but it was emotionally draining at times.

Peter and Lara Jean have everything all planned out. Peter already has a lacrosse scholarship and will attend the same college Lara Jean's parents attended that has always been her number one choice. She is anxiously awaiting her acceptance letters, but things do not pan out as she had hoped. This puts a lot of strain on their relationship as they try to navigate what a long distance relationship might be like. 

In addition to the college planning, Lara Jean's Dad and Ms. Rothchild are in the midst of planning their wedding. Lara Jean has visions of a grand event with all the bells and whistles, but this is a second marriage for both of them. They would be happy with a simple ceremony with close friends and family, which Lara Jean just can't comprehend. In addition, there is a major transition as Ms. Rothchild moves into their family home and starts to add her own personal touches.

There is a lot of change taking place and Lara Jean just doesn't know how to deal with it. She makes some rash decisions that she ultimately ends up regretting. Thankfully, she is able to get things back on track and I was pleased with how the series ended. 

Monday, October 18, 2021

Book Review: Well Offed in Vermont by Patricia Meade


In bucolic small-town Vermont, Stella Thornton Buckley feels out of her element—and not just because she's fresh from Manhattan. Mere hours after moving to maple syrup country, she and her husband, Nick, find a dead man, Allen Weston, in their well. The police investigation forces the couple out of their lovely farmhouse and—since the motels are packed with leaf-peepers—into a less than luxurious deer camp. Instead of mourning the loss of electricity and running water, Stella and Nick drive their Smart Car all over the Vermont hamlet to question the quirky locals about Weston, a shrewd businessman who rubbed a lot of folks the wrong way. Stella and Nick may never shed their flatlander reputation, but they just might be able to make a few friends and help Sheriff Mills solve a murder.


i live in the South, so when I think of anything fall-like, my mind instantly goes to the Northeast and the wonderful fall foliage that dominates that area in the autumn. On that alone, I was instantly drawn to the cover of the cozy mystery Well Offed in Vermont with its colorful colors of oranges and yellows. It just screams cozy to me.
he story didnt disappoint either. I loved the aspect of Nick and Stella, a married couple trying to investigate the murder and mystery that surrounded their new home. The banter bewteen the two was fantastic, how they played good cop- bad cop, I felt it was something only a married couple could pull off. It was also great to see them adjusting to living in the country in Vermont coming from New York City.
T The story was light hearted, fun, and it wasn't one that I instantly figured out, infact it took the actual revealing for me to know who had done it, and that I really liked.
Well -offed in Vermont is the first of a series, and I can easily see myself picking up the second one.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Book Review: Blacklist by Alyson Noel


Goodreads Overview:

Layla Harrison has finally found herself in the middle of a celebrity story worth reporting. Aster Amirpour’s name is in every tabloid—even if it isn’t the good kind of publicity she hoped for. Tommy Phillips is inches away from getting the girl of his dreams, which may be harder than scoring a VIP ticket to an Unrivaled nightclub.

But Layla, Aster and Tommy never imagined it would be because they’re entangled in the disappearance of Madison Brooks—a story that’s blinded the world like a starlet blinded by the flash of a paparazzi camera.

Now, Layla is receiving mysterious messages from an anonymous source, Aster’s looming murder trial is so huge even her parents’ lawyer can’t save her, Tommy is retracing his steps as the last person Madison saw alive, and Layla’s ex Mateo finds himself lured into the fold.

You can dig up dirt about celebrities that the tabloids miss if you search long enough. But when Layla, Aster, and Tommy team up with an unsuspecting insider to unearth the truth, they’ll find that some secrets are best kept in the grave.

Jacque's Review:

This is the second book in the Beautiful Idols series and I am just as confused about what happened to Madison as I was at the end of the first book. While all of the main characters have some element of suspicion for one another, I don't believe any of them had anything to do with Madison's disappearance. At first, I thought it was all staged so Madison could ride out some bad publicity. By the end of the book, we clearly know that is not the case. 

As Layla, Aster, Tommy and Mateo dig deeper into Madison's past, they discover a number of skeletons that could have contributed to her disappearance. How they can share this information with the authorities without somehow implicating themselves is the bigger problem. In addition, I do not trust Ira Redman, Tommy's father and the nightclub owner that hosted the contest that kicked off this series. Something also feels off with the reporter Trena Moretti, the reporter that has sky rocketed her career because of the Madison Brooks story.  

I do not feel like the story advanced much over the course of this book, but I am still interested in seeing how everything will unfold. I am vested enough in the characters and hope the final book will be more like the first, which I really enjoyed.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Book Review: Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

A Heian-era mansion stands abandoned, its foundations resting on the bones of a bride and its walls packed with the remains of the girls sacrificed to keep her company.

It’s the perfect wedding venue for a group of thrill-seeking friends.

But a night of food, drinks, and games quickly spirals into a nightmare. For lurking in the shadows is the ghost bride with a black smile and a hungry heart.

And she gets lonely down there in the dirt.


Ok. Well. This book was certainly interesting. I think. Let me start out by saying that it was a difficult read. Not like, feeling wise or something like that, but like I didn't know what half the words meant. I knew going in, this was kind of about a Japanese Folktale, but I never thought I would have to sit with a dictionary looking up words to find out their meaning. I felt I had to, otherwise, what if I missed something that had to do with that word. Basically, it didn't matter, I am still not sure what I read.

I think the concept of the ohaguro-bettari was interesting, and that Khaw was able to make it the center of a horror story was brilliant on her part. The thought of a ghost bride waiting endlessly for her groom to come... sounds creepy. To me, however, the real horror came with the characters. They descended on this haunted mansion to celebrate the wedding of two of them. These are people who have been friends since high school, but their lies, their relationships, and their real feelings for each other ended up being more horrifying than ghost bride herself.

The story was well written, despite all the pretentiousness of the wording, and I really enjoyed the first half of the short novella, which was just over 100 pages, something I thought was going to be a quick read and quickly found that thought was WRONG. But halfway through I just tired of the drama between the friends, and found myself wishing that the ghost bride would come along and put me out of my misery!

Between the 

Monday, September 27, 2021

Audiobook Review: A Spindle Splintered by Alix E Harrow


It's Zinnia Gray's twenty-first birthday, which is extra-special because it's the last birthday she'll ever have. When she was young, an industrial accident left Zinnia with a rare condition. Not much is known about her illness, just that no one has lived past twenty-one.

Her best friend Charm is intent on making Zinnia's last birthday special with a full sleeping beauty experience, complete with a tower and a spinning wheel. But when Zinnia pricks her finger, something strange and unexpected happens, and she finds herself falling through worlds, with another sleeping beauty, just as desperate to escape her fate.


Since I have been a little girl, I have loved fairytales. I still remember one Christmas, my mom and dad, getting me an entire set of really cool Fairytale books, I read them until they were worn out, and after my kids went through them, they had to be put to rest.

 Spindle Splintered, though short, is barely 100 pages, but it is written amazingly well. The story is about Zinna, who is dying with a genetic disorder that will probably kill her during her 21st birthday, and Briar Rose..yes the Briar Rose of Sleeping Beauty, who are working together to escape both of their fates. 

Zinna, a fan of Sleeping Beauty, is attending her 21st birthday party given by her best friend Charmaine, during which she pricks her finger on a spindle and is instantly transported to a Fairytale World where Sleeping Beauty ( Briar Rose ) exists. 

The characters of Zinna, Charmaine, and Briar Rose are all so likable, that you will find yourself rooting for them throughout the book, as they race to save themselves and a few other Princess's stuck in the same fate. The timeline is parallel ( I guess that is what you would call it ), with Zinna and Briar Rose in Fairytale world and Charmine in our world. I know it sounds crazy, but this is fantasy and technology allows it to happen.

I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Amy Landon, who made the book very pleasant to listen to, her voice was clear, and she did really well on the various characters' voices.

This is a magical, clever, and smart novella, with a great look at feminity, friendship, coping, and fighting against your circumstances. It is also the first book in the Fractured Fables series, so I am looking forward in seeing what comes next.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Audiobook review: Margarita in the Spotlight by Maria Frazer

Book Summary

Margarita McCoy plays banjo and sings back-up in her stepsister Stephanie McCoy’s wildly popular country music band.

Margarita isn’t particularly passionate about music, but she loves Stephanie and would do anything to help her—and that includes being thrust into the media spotlight after an article in the New York Times calls out country music for its lack of diversity. Since Margarita’s father is Mexican American, the McCoy’s record label wants to use her to show that they aren’t as white-washed as the article says.

For Margarita, the media frenzy is overwhelming, and quickly has her considering how exactly she should define herself and her identity. How Mexican American is she? How should she use her 15 minutes of fame? And how come no one ever taught her about Selena Quintanilla?

MARGARITA IN THE SPOTLIGHT is a fun and empowering story about identity, family, music, and the power of finding your voice—featuring original music that will delight your ears and get your toes tapping!

Flo's Review

Y'all. I felt this one. I grew up in Tennessee, so I am a fan of country music. For awhile there, I would spent many of my weekends line dancing at my local country bar, and I even worked at a country music magazine for a little bit. Whenever people found out I liked country music, the reaction was very, very surprised. Usually when I explained the whole, "I'm from Tennessee," thing, understanding dawned in their eyes. But before that it looked like people were thinking, but they would (rarely) say, "A Black girl likes country music?"

I'm aging myself a little bit, because that was several years ago, and country music has become much more diverse in that time. But, I definitely understood on a personal level a lot of what was happening with Margarita in this story. Even without that personal connection, though, I still think I would love this story. The bond between Margarita and sister, and even among their whole family is so heartwarming. 

My favorite thing, though, was the format. This was my first time listening to a story like there, with music interspersed throughout the audio narration, and it was solid gold. The songs tied in so well with what was happening in the story, and it felt like such a nice little treat every time one came up. It's so fun, and I highly recommend that anyone give it a shot.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Audio Book Review: Nick and Noel's Christmas Playlist by Codi Hall


Nick Winters and Noel Carter have known each other their whole lives. After years of shared family holidays, working together on the Winters’ Christmas tree farm, and being each other's safe haven, they wouldn't dream of crossing the line from friends to something more....

But when Nick comes home for the holidays after serving overseas and finds that his long-term girlfriend has decided to get her stocking stuffed elsewhere, Noel is there to pick him up and show him that instead of a Blue Christmas he can still have a Wonderful Christmastime without his cheating ex. 

A night on the town and an impulsive kiss later has Noel thinking that perhaps this year they’ll be rockin’ around the Christmas tree as a couple, but only if the ghost - er rather - girlfriend of Nick's Christmas past doesn’t decide to haunt their holiday....


I love Christmas books, so when I saw Nick and Noel's Christmas Playlist by Codi Hill I knew I was in!

The story was a cute and fun holiday romance. I listened to it on audio and really enjoyed the narration between the multiple narrators. It went quickly and was an easy listen.

I really enjoyed both of the main characters, Nick and Noel. Nick, just home from the military was really a wonderful character, just a really nice guy. The book starts out with Nick arriving home to find out that the girl he has been in love with has been cheating and dumps him. I felt rather sad for him because he thought Amanda was the girl for him. Noel, who is a nurse the perfect best friend for Nick, but after the breakup, he realizes that she has been there for him through everything and looks at her a bit differently

I did not like Nick's ex-girlfriend Amanda at all, and I thought the author spent too much time with her in the story, however, she was the perfect catalyst for some much-needed drama between Nick and Nora and their relationship.

But, this isn't your typical Hallmark Christmas movie type story, there are some pretty steamy sex scenes thrown in., but I will admit, it did help spice up the otherwise typical story.

There were a few things that I did not like about the books, the first being that I felt it was WAY too close to Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist, and I thought that Hall could have been steered from what seemed like a reliance on that story.

Also, there were times, a lot of them actually, where I felt both the main characters and the secondary characters were so immature in their actions, but maybe, being older, I was not the target audience for this book. However I do read YA books and have really enjoyed them, so I am not so sure that was the problem.

But of course, being a music lover, I have to say that one of my favorite parts of the books and the audio ( I used them both ) was the excellent playlist at the end.

All in all, it was a cute read.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Book Review: Over The Falls by Rebecca Hodge


It's early June in the mountains of Eastern Tennessee, and the idyllic beauty of the landscape belies the darkness that lurks beneath the surface. Bryn Collins has been living in isolation for fourteen years after her fiance, Sawyer, jilted her for her despised sister, Del. Although a life-threatening accident ended her days navigating the perils of whitewater, she still finds refuge kayaking in the local lakes.

But Bryn's placid life hits the skids when an unwelcome cast of characters reenters her life. Del goes mysteriously missing, and her fourteen-year-old son, Josh, arrives to ask for Bryn's help finding her. His father, Sawyer, had been killed in a plane crash and he has no one else to turn to. Carl, an unruly punk the sisters knew years before, is desperate to find Del because she owes him money.

Bryn and Josh follow an ever-elusive trail to Colorado, and at the annual Mountain Games competition in Vail, they finally confront the truth. For Bryn, all roads lead to the river, and on vicious Colorado whitewaters, she must muster every ounce of courage and strength to save what she most loves in the world.


This was the first book I have read by Rebecca Hodge, and after the thrill ride that I just went on I know it will not be the last time I pick up one of her books.

I really enjoyed the setting of Eastern Tennessee, I have been there on vacation several times so it was easy for me to picture the surroundings, even though Hodge did a great job of describing the area. I espececially enjoyed the peaceful farm like Bryn lived, and have craved that for myself many times. I saw why Bryn was so reluent to give up that peace to help her nephew Josh.

The characters are all well rounded. Bryn is the unfavored child in the family, her parents more douting on her sister Del, who Bryn herself remembers fondly as they were growning up, in reality Del is just pure evil and the book proved that point. I liked the growth of the characters and the bonding betweent Bryn and Josh. They are also somewhat easy to relate to, showing faults and weaknesses, something everyone has, but at times books seem to leave them out.

There is some good action to keep you turning pages, for instance the white water rafting. The intensirty of the scenes will have you holding your breathe.

The story is a bit of a slow burn, and takes a bit to get started, but it is engaging and well written. At times I did feel that the story was in places repetitive, so some of the twists and turns were easy to figure out beforehand. But all in all this was a good introduction to Rebecca Hodge and I look forward to checking out her back books and what she writes next.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Book Review: The Camelot Betrayal by Kiersten White


Goodreads Overview:

EVERYTHING IS AS IT SHOULD BE IN CAMELOT: King Arthur is expanding his kingdom’s influence with Queen Guinevere at his side. Yet every night, dreams of darkness and unknowable power plague her.

Guinevere might have accepted her role, but she still cannot find a place for herself in all of it. The closer she gets to Brangien, pining for her lost love Isolde, Lancelot, fighting to prove her worth as Queen’s knight, and Arthur, everything to everyone and thus never quite enough for Guinevere–the more she realizes how empty she is. She has no sense of who she truly was before she was Guinevere. The more she tries to claim herself as queen, the more she wonders if Mordred was right: she doesn’t belong. She never will.

When a rescue goes awry and results in the death of something precious, a devastated Guinevere returns to Camelot to find the greatest threat yet has arrived. Not in the form of the Dark Queen or an invading army, but in the form of the real Guinevere’s younger sister. Is her deception at an end? And who is she really deceiving–Camelot, or herself?

Jacque's Review:

This is the second book in the Camelot Rising trilogy. I enjoyed the story, but I don't feel like a lot of progress was made in the plot or character development. Arthur is still dedicated to Camelot and I do not think there will ever be a real relationship between Guinevere and Arthur. The few times Mordred appeared, there was an undeniable spark and connection between him and Guinevere. I am hoping things will eventually move in that direction even though I know she feels a sense of obligation to protect Arthur and Camelot. 

Lancelot wants to be just like all of Arthur's other knights, but as skilled as she is, she will never be one of the boys. She is assigned as Guinevere's knight and the two develop a friendship that eventually becomes strained. Guinevere can see that their relationship is impacting how Lancelot is viewed by her piers and tries to put some distance between them. Lancelot is one of the few people who knows the story of who Guinevere really is, so the two are able to speak freely with one another. They work together and take part in some quests along the way, which added the only real action and adventure to this story.

We do not learn any more about who Guinevere was before coming to Camelot or what has happened to Merlin. Without her memories, she feels like she is an imposter simply playing the role of Queen.  When the real Guinevere's sister arrives, she is convinced she is going to be outed. We do learn more about the real Guinevere from her sister, which I did find interesting.

The ending was a bit shocking, so I am looking forward to reading the final book to see what happens next. I'm not sure this story will have a happily ever after for everyone involved. Fortunately, The Excalibur Curse, is scheduled to be released December 7, 2021, so we will find out soon enough. 

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Book Review: The Private School Murders by James Patterson


Goodreads Overview:

In the sequel to the #1 New York Times bestseller Confessions of a Murder Suspect, James Patterson keeps the confessions coming breathlessly as Tandy Angel delves deeper into her own tumultuous history-and proves that she can rise above the sordid Angel legacy.

Wealthy young women are being murdered on Manhattan's exclusive Upper West Side, and the police aren't looking for answers in the right places. Enter Tandy Angel. The first case she cracked was the mystery of her parents' deaths. Now, while she's working to exonerate her brother of his glamorous girlfriend's homicide, she's driven to get involved in the West Side murder spree. 

One of the recent victims was a student at Tandy's own elite school. She has a hunch it may be the work of a serial killer, but the NYPD isn't listening to her...and Tandy can't ignore the disturbing fact that she perfectly fits the profile of the killer's targets. Can she untangle the mysteries in time? Or will she be the next victim?

Jacque's Review:

This is the second book in the Confessions series and was equally as captivating as the first. I enjoy listening to these books vs. reading them since Tandy is speaking directly to the reader. She is telling her story and sharing her secrets, which comes across very effectively through the audiobook. 

This time around the family is broke. The courts freeze all of their assets due to the pending legal cases against their parents. Their Uncle Peter is assigned as their guardian, but delegates the job to Jacob, who is an uncle the Angel kids didn't even know existed until he moved in with them. He has a military background and runs a tight ship. He installs a sense of discipline and accountability the kids desperately needed.

The family's primary focus is trying to clear their brother Matthew of murder charges, but the situation isn't looking good. Matthew was heavily intoxicated at the time of the murder and isn't even sure of what happened. He is very strong and has a known temper, which can definitely be used against him.

As if that weren't enough, girls Tandy's age that meet her exact demographic are being murdered not far from her home. The police do not see the connection, but Tandy does and decides she needs to solve this case before she becomes the next victim. 

Even off their "vitamins", which were prescription medications their parents gave them to enhance their performance in just about every way, the Angel kids are extraordinarily talented. Tandy has a gifted IQ and can conduct an investigation and work through the evidence more efficiently than investigators with decades of experience. She did get lucky with a few of her discoveries, but I guess that is probably the case with most investigations. 

Tandy also begins to remember her relationship with James Rampling. James is the son of one of the investors that lost millions of dollars in their mother's investment scandal. He is now suing their estate and wants his son to stay as far away from Tandy as possible. Her parents were in agreement prior to their deaths and sent her to a mental institution to put an end to the relationship. While she was there, her memories of the relationship were erased. I'm not sure how one can maintain a genius level IQ and have only certain memories erased, but that is what happened. 

I don't want to give everything away, but will say that I was happy with the ending. All of the pieces came together nicely and in a believable fashion. I wish they would have shared the motivation behind the Private School Murders, but the case is solved and Tandy can breathe easier. The future of the Angel children is up in the air and I look forward to seeing how things will unfold in the next installment in the series.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Book Review: The Innocent Man by John Grisham


Goodreads Overview:

In the town of Ada, Oklahoma, Ron Williamson was going to be the next Mickey Mantle. But on his way to the Big Leagues, Ron stumbled, his dreams broken by drinking, drugs, and women. Then, on a winter night in 1982, not far from Ron’s home, a young cocktail waitress named Debra Sue Carter was savagely murdered. The investigation led nowhere. Until, on the flimsiest evidence, it led to Ron Williamson. The washed-up small-town hero was charged, tried, and sentenced to death—in a trial littered with lying witnesses and tainted evidence that would shatter a man’s already broken life…and let a true killer go free. Impeccably researched, grippingly told, filled with eleventh-hour drama, John Grisham’s first work of nonfiction reads like a page-turning legal thriller. It is a book that will terrify anyone who believes in the presumption of innocence—a book no American can afford to miss.

Jacque's Review:

I read all of John Grisham's books as they were released from A Time to Kill through the Runaway Jury. Then I was too busy with college and eventually work and got really far behind. In fact, I didn't even know he had a nonfiction book until I was talking to my brother and he mentioned that he had just finished reading The Innocent Man and it was his favorite Grisham book yet.

This book is about two men who are accused and convicted of a murder they did not commit. The police refused to look at evidence that would have exonerated them and based their entire case on lying witnesses and trumped up evidence. It was absolutely shocking that with DNA evidence these men even went to trial let alone were convicted.

The story reads like one of Grisham's fiction novels and I was immediately engrossed in the story. Ron Williamson was a star baseball player with hopes of playing in the major leagues. He played for several seasons in the minors, but never hit it big. He struggled with depression and bi-polar disorder and required medication and treatment to stay balanced, which he didn't always take. He also enjoyed partying and drinking, which didn't help his situation. He got into some trouble here and there, which made him an easy target for the police when their investigation came up empty. Dennis Fritz was simply guilty by association.

I couldn't help but feel sorry for these two men. They insisted they were innocent and the legal system completely failed them. The corruption in the District Attorney's office and with the investigators working the case was appalling. It is scary to think that this can really happen to innocent people. 

I haven't watched the Netflix series yet, but I look forward to seeing some of the live footage that is described in the book. I also hope to hear some of Grisham's thoughts on the case and the events that took place during the investigation and the trial. As a fiction author, I don't think Grisham could have written such an unbelievable series of events and made it sound believable. It is crazy to think this can really happen in a place where people are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. 

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Book Review: Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra


Goodreads Overview:

Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school.

Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette's desire to escape the shadow of her ballet-star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever.

When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.

Jacque's Review:

I picked up a copy of this book at BEA several years ago. I was finally motivated to bump it up my TBR list when I started hearing all of the gossip about the Netflix series. Always one to read the book before watching the TV show or movie, I started reading. I have since watched the series and let me tell you....Netflix really took some liberties with this one. The book is definitely YA, but the series is NOT. 

Both the book and movie tackle some difficult issues with eating disorders, the fierce competition in the performing arts, racism, coming out, and substance abuse. 

The book seemed very realistic and could be an insiders view of what it is like trying to make it to the top of the ballet world. Everyone is looking out for only themselves and nobody can be trusted. Netflix took the story and sensationalized it. They added a ton of content for shock value that did not add to the value of the story. In fact, their additions were embarrassing to watch and I was glad my sixteen year old son didn't watch the series with us.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and will read Shiny Broken Pieces, which is the final book in the duology. Cassie is a character that had a distant role in this book. She held the top position as the prima until something happened (the versions of this are drastically different between the book and movie) that sent her away from the school for a while. She returns at the very end of Tiny Pretty Things and I am sure she will shake up the dynamic at the school. There are so many little cliques and everyone seems to have something to hide. Who was really involved in what happened to Cassie is still up in the air. I have my ideas, but I do not see her as a victim. I think she is just as ruthless as the rest of them and will come back with a vengeance. She may have even had it coming in the eyes of most of the other students.

After reading this book, I will not watch a ballet in quite the same way. There is a lot more that goes into a performance than hard work, grace, and elegance. 

Monday, August 23, 2021

Book Review: 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard


No one knew they'd moved in together. Now one of them is dead. Could this be the perfect murder?

Ciara and Oliver meet in a supermarket queue in Dublin the same week Covid-19 reaches Irish shores.

When lockdown threatens to keep them apart, Oliver suggests that Ciara move in with him. She sees a unique opportunity for a new relationship to flourish without the pressure of scrutiny of family and friends. He sees it as an opportunity to hide who - and what - he really is.

Detectives arrive at Oliver's apartment to discover a decomposing body inside.

Will they be able to determine what really happened, or has lockdown provided someone with the opportunity to commit the perfect crime?


I just finished this book and am having mixed feelings about it. 

But I will start here: I listened to this on audio. I enjoyed the narrator, her accent was not overly heavy and it made it easy to understand. Some audiobooks have a narrator that is so hard to understand with their accent, that you tend to miss things.

The author had a great concept. The book appealed to me because the subject was close to us all and easy to relate to, however, I do know some wh felt that it was a bit too soon. 

It was a slow burner of a thriller, if you could call it that, I felt it was more a mystery than a thriller. Trying to figure out who each of the players were, that was the mystery. There were a lot of lies and deception going on. There was a bit of a twist at the end, but nothing that would blow your mind or really surprise you at that point.

The story goes back and forth a lot and I was afraid it would confuse me, but I feel that the author generally keeping the story between the main characters and not throwing in others made it easy to follow. There were others but they were scattered through and rarely seemed like major players. Even the " now " chapters with the police investigation were easy to follow. In fact, I loved those chapters in the story. The investigation was more of a draw than the actual characters.

I give this book 3 stars, It did not thrill me but I did not hate it either. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Book Review: The Lost Boys Of Montauk by Amanda M Fairbanks


In March of 1984, the commercial fishing boat Wind Blown left Montauk Harbor on what should have been a routine offshore voyage. Its captain, a married father of three young boys, was the boat’s owner and leader of the four-man crew, which included two locals and the blue-blooded son of a well-to-do summer family. After a week at sea, the weather suddenly turned, and the foursome collided with a nor’easter. They soon found themselves in the fight of their lives. Tragically, it was a fight they lost. Neither the boat nor the bodies of the men were ever recovered.

The fate of the Wind Blown—the second-worst nautical disaster suffered by a Montauk-based fishing vessel in over a hundred years—has become interwoven with the local folklore of the East End’s year-round population. Back then, on the easternmost tip of Long Island, before Wall Street and hedge fund money stormed into town, commercial fishing was the area’s economic lifeblood.

Amanda M. Fairbanks examines the profound shift of Montauk from a working-class village—“a drinking town with a fishing problem”—to a playground for the ultra-wealthy, seeking out the reasons that an event more than three decades old remains so startlingly vivid in people’s minds. She explores the ways in which deep, lasting grief can alter people’s memories. And she shines a light on the powerful and sometimes painful dynamics between fathers and sons, as well as the secrets that can haunt families from beyond the grave.


I love the ocean. I grew up constantly surrounded by it and in it. My dad was a sailor until I was 16 years old, and from then he was on the water because he wanted to be. So I found that The Lost Boys of Montauk really resonated with me. It is a book about a boat accident and the crew of four that went down on the commercial fishing boat Wind Blown.

Wind Blown which was skippered bu Mike Steadman went down 120 nautical miles from the Montauk Harbor in March 1984. Along with Steadman were a crew of three. First Mate Dave Connick, and two deckhands Michael Vigilant and Scott Clarke.

The author, Amanda Fairbanks interviewed friends and family members of each of the crew members. You learn about the lives they lived and how they came to be aboard the 65 ft trawler. Of course, there is very little about the actual wreck, no one on board survived to tell what really happened. There is speculation. Several people said the boat wasn't sea worthy enough to hold up against the storm that hit the east coast that day, and that the communications ( weather reports etc... ) were bad, and then just the sheer force of this storm, making it rough on any boat out to sea that day.

The book is well researched, you get to know the crew members, however I did question some of the things that Fairbanks wrote about the men. Things I thought that should be left private, things the world just didn't need to know and should have been left private.

The bodies of the crew member were never found and the author did a great job sowing the lasting grief that was felt over the deaths and not having a body to give them closure. One mother refused to believe her son was dead and searched for him until she died. I think the author probably gave some closure to the families with this book, along with the statue that the families erected for the crew. It was a place where they could go and grieve, or to feel close to their lost one. 

I enjoyed this book, but there were slow parts, and I imagine some would find it a tedious read, there are a lot of facts, and as I did, I think many people might go in thinking they would know more about the actual accident. But for me and I hope for the families that were left behind this book is a beautiful memorial to four young men that lost their lives doing what they loved. 

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Book Review: Then You Saw Me by Carrie Aarons

You know what’s guaranteed to send your heart into your throat? Opening the front door of your off-campus house to find the boy you had a crush on all through high school telling you he’s the new subletter.

Of course, he barely knew I existed back then, and still doesn’t even though we attend the same university. But in a house of six college kids, it should be easy to remain invisible while carrying a torch for him. After all, I’m skilled at being overlooked and playing second fiddle.

Except Austin Van Hewitt, my hometown’s golden boy, doesn’t get the memo. After we throw our first party of the year, I’m on his radar and somehow my lips miraculously end up on his. The budding romance is one I’ve always dreamt about. As he shows more and more interest, I push aside the plaguing insecurity of never being good enough.

But then a letter shows up in our mailbox. A time capsule I wrote to myself when I was fifteen. You know, the kind where a teacher sends it to you years later? Guess who opens it by mistake and reads all about how I plan on marrying him and having his babies one day? Did I mention I signed it using his last name?

Mortifying would be an understatement. After he starts pulling away, I’m once again the girl in the background hoping that someone will understand me enough to pay me all of their attention. 

The old me, the one conditioned to settle for what she’s given, would back down. This time, though, if I want everything I almost held in my hands, I’ll have to speak up. I’ll have to admit exactly how I feel, fight for the love that was blossoming. And I’m not sure what’s scarier; voicing my inner thoughts or facing his ultimate rejection.


We have all been there. Had that one crush in school, the one that seemed to last forever. The one who didn't even know you were alive.

So imagine this: a few years later you are in college and one of your roommates' leaves, and who shows up to sublet their room? Yep. The guy. The one you had crushed so hard on.

Carrie Aarons knows how to write romance. She keeps you engaged and turning pages. She gets you invested, not only in the story but the characters themselves. She makes them feel like they are your friends, and that you are right in the middle of the action. In fact, she is becoming one of my go-to authors on contemporary romance.

The main characters Taya and Austin are both complex characters. Austin's last name is synonymous with the town they grew up in. Well-known and well connected. He is the perfect son, the perfect student. He is the golden boy. Taya has spent her life playing second best to her little sister.

I enjoyed both characters. Surprisingly Carrie Aarons did not make Austin a character you dislike, the arrogant high school jock that so many seem to focus on. He is very likable and you instantly understand where he is coming from and his actions. And of course, you feel for Taya, she goes through this horrible humiliation that we would all want to avoid.

Both of them are human, they feel real to the reader. They are vulnerable, they are insecure, and like anyone from a dysfunctional family they struggle with things, but the thing that really drew me to these two was their ability to be fighters and the intense connection between them.

Are you a fan of close proximity roommate romances? Do you like stories that are full of angst and emotions?  If you answered yes to either of these, do yourself a favor and pick up Then You Saw Me By Carrie Aarons. You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Book Review: Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillipi Ryan


Everyone knows Lily Atwood—and that may be her biggest problem. The beloved television reporter has it all—fame, fortune, Emmys, an adorable seven-year-old daughter, and the hashtag her loving fans created: #PerfectLily. To keep it, all she has to do is protect one life-changing secret. 

Her own. 

Lily has an anonymous source who feeds her story tips—but suddenly, the source begins telling Lily inside information about her own life. How does he—or she—know the truth? 

Lily understands that no one reveals a secret unless they have a reason. Now she’s terrified someone is determined to destroy her world—and with it, everyone and everything she holds dear.

How much will she risk to keep her perfect life?


I struggled with this book, mostly I think, because I could not connect with the main characters, nor did I like them at all. I found Lily whiney, obsessive, and self-centered. I never trusted her producer Greer, right from the start she seemed way too jealous of Lily and was just all-around sneaky.

The story is told in dual timelines, about 25 years between them. The past timeline centers around Cassie, Lily's older sister who leaves for college and while there disappears never to be heard from again. No one had ever figured out what had happened to her.

Present time deals with Cassie, a well-known and successful news personality, and her producer Greer. Cassie is always looking for Casie in every female that is the age she would have been, but she is also hiding secrets of her own, such as the father of her daughter.

There are some great twists in the story, some that I had figured out and some that I was totally off on. I can certainly see why Hank Phillipi Ryan has such a large and faithful fan base, her writing is masterful. It was just hard for me to enjoy the book when I disliked the characters so much. I am looking forward to trying other books that she has written.