Friday, February 26, 2021

Book Review: Chop Wood Carry Water by Joshua Medcalf


Goodreads Overview:

Guided by “Akira-sensei,” John comes to realize the greatest adversity on his journey will be the challenge of defeating the man in the mirror.

This powerful story of one boy’s journey to achieve his life long goal of becoming a samurai warrior, brings the Train to be CLUTCH curriculum to life in a powerful and memorable way.

Some things you will learn…
—No matter how it feels, you are always building your own house.
—How and why you must surrender to the outcome in order to be at your best.
—Why you never want to have your identity wrapped up in what you do.
—Why your strength lies in faithfulness to the little things.
—How to develop a heart posture of gratitude.
—How to use the biggest challenges as a training ground for greatness.
—Why the process is more important than the goal.
—Why comparison is the thief of all joy.
—How to develop a growth mindset.
—Why talent is more of a curse than a blessing.

Jacque's Review:

This is one of 3 books recommended by my son's golf coach to help him with the mental game. There are a lot of great messages and one line quotes that are very inspirational and motivating. Most people are focused on what they want to accomplish. In my son's case, "I'm going to make the Florida Gulf Coast golf team and get my degree in PGA golf management." It is necessary to set goals, but this book teaches you the importance of the day to day dedication and training that is essential to achieve greatness.

Before you can focus on winning, you must work on the fundamentals EVERY DAY. You can't take the day off simply because you are tired or it is raining and windy. Pushing through adversity is what makes you stronger and will ultimately give you an edge over your competition. You should always focus on the positive and what you learned today vs. your perceived shortcomings. 

My son and I read this book together and discussed each chapter. He appreciated the message and has definitely improved his work ethic. Some of the conversations between John and Akira were lengthy and my son lost interest. Instead of reading this book like a typical novel, I would recommend reading a chapter a day. This would have given him something to think about, digest, and implement into his daily routine before going onto the next chapter. In shorter chunks the stories and conversations may not have felt so long. 

Overall, it was a good story with a great message that everyone could benefit from. I gave it 3 stars simply because a book this short really shouldn't have felt like it was dragging.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Book Review: The Lost Village by Camilla Sten


Documentary filmmaker Alice Lindstedt has been obsessed with the vanishing residents of the old mining town, dubbed “The Lost Village,” since she was a little girl. In 1959, her grandmother’s entire family disappeared in this mysterious tragedy, and ever since, the unanswered questions surrounding the only two people who were left—a woman stoned to death in the town center and an abandoned newborn—have plagued her. She’s gathered a small crew of friends in the remote village to make a film about what really happened.

But there will be no turning back.

Not long after they’ve set up camp, mysterious things begin to happen. Equipment is destroyed. People go missing. As doubt breeds fear and their very minds begin to crack, one thing becomes startlingly clear to Alice:

They are not alone.

They’re looking for the truth…
But what if it finds them first?


Don’t be fooled when you read the summary of The Lost Village, the one that tells you the story is about a documentary film crew that gets to a Swedish village where the people mysteriously disappeared in 1959.  I mean that is true, they do go there, but only to scout, not film, and they do nothing with filming whatsoever. 

Also, this book says it is a thriller/horror book. I disagree with that. Hear me out. I am a big scary cat, I have trouble reading Riley Sager books, they creep me out, I can only read them during the day. I spent the majority of my time reading The Lost Village in the dark, alone. Is it a horror …yes..but it is not scary. The horror is that people fall prey to religion and religious leaders. I have questioned that so many times in my life, and here again with this book I found myself questioning it, especially as this book unfolds and you are beginning to understand what has actually happened in 1959. Maybe it is easier to fall prey to these people than I realize, people certainly “ drink the Kool-Aid “ so to speak…The Salem Witch Trials, Jim Jones, Waco, you could even count in Hitler and Manson, however, they were less religious-based. What must people's life be like to grasp so heavily at the words of these people?  Ok sorry off point…back to the story…

The Lost Village is fast-paced, bouncing between two time periods, Then ( 1959 ) and Now.  The then takes you through events that lead up to the cause of the mysterious disappearance of the entire village and the chapters are interspaced throughout the Now chapters that deal with a film documentary crew who has come to make a film about the disappearance. Shortly after arriving they begin to notice small things, often wondering if it isn’t their imagination getting the best of them, but they soon realize they are not alone out there as more and more things happen, and the things begin to get worse.  The timelines also connect the two times together fairly neatly. I found myself more invested in the Then timeline, I really wanted to know how a village of 900 people could just disappear off the face of the earth, and I think it was that want that kept me reading, as I was not very fond of any of the characters, I felt a bit detached from them.

Don’t get me wrong, it is not a bad book, I give it a solid three stars, which to me is neither great nor bad. I read it through the worse snow and ice storm we have had in years, and it felt like the perfect setting even without the book dealing with winter weather, and it kept me entertained. If anything I would say it was a good mystery, it has its moments of suspense, a feeling dread mostly, but if you were looking for creepy, or horror, or an outright thriller, you might be better off looking elsewhere.

** Thanks to Minotaur Books for the Advanced Copy **

Friday, February 12, 2021

Book Review: The Secret History by Donna Tartt


Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last - inexorably - into evil 


I think as readers when we pick up a new book and begin reading the front pages, we are hoping that the book we are holding in our hands will be the one. The one book that will be listed as our favorite. But have you ever had to kick yourself because that book had actually set on your TBR shelf for a couple of years, being passed up like a small kid in an elementary gym class time after time? This was what had happened with The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I always seemed to have an excuse in my head when scanning over my shelf to pick my books for the month…I need to read this or that because it is coming out soon. Did I really want to take on a story about Classical Lit students at an elite Eastern College? And the number one reason, at more than 500 pages, it was a bit longer than most books I read, and I am a card-carrying member of the slow readers club.

What changed and made me pick it up? This year, with the exception of BOTM, I am trying to not buy books. My TBR shelf is overloaded and at the moment I am getting plenty from publishers to keep me busy during the month, so what the heck, let's read The Secret History..finally.

The book starts with a murder... you even know who has committed the murder, but you do not know why. The story takes you back to the first of the school year, you meet the main players in the story, 5 students that are studying Greek and a small college in Vermont.  In the first part of the book, you are getting to know the characters, just as they are getting to know each other, learning to trust or not trust each other. They face a tragedy together that will ultimately lead to the murder.  And while it was a bit strange reading one half of a more than 500-page book knowing that at the end a murder would take place, the story twists and weaves and surprises you, as well at times shocks you. 

The characters are different, and of course, they all have secrets. They feel immortal almost, the way they are so proper, almost from a bygone era. They are highly intelligent, well-spoken, and very pretentious. They are not perfect, they have addictions that they don’t even notice. Cigarettes, one too many cocktails. To them this is normal, it is how their lives are normally lived. They are also devious. I am not even sure if they are likable, but the trauma they face is raw, and you feel it, sometimes more than they seem to.

While I think the first part of the book is interesting and I enjoyed the relationships of the characters and getting to know them, I imagine some people would find it slow, and if you are one of those, I recommend staying with it, as it is worth it in the end. Part two of the book deals with the chaotic aftermath of the murder, and can at times put you on edge. 

The second part of the book is where Tartt’s writing shines. It is beautiful all through the book, but her world and character-building here are exceptional. She builds a world few of us will ever actually know, and lets us feel part of it, even at times when we don’t want to feel that way. She sprinkles in classical languages and literature, giving it a mysterious feel, but by doing so, she also gives you the feeling of being among the players, the preverbal fly on the wall I suppose.

I absolutely adored this book, and it now has the ranking of one of the few books I call “ my favorite “. I imagine picking it up again at some point and revisiting it. It was dark, and classic, a modern masterpiece and it is a book that will stay with me for quite some time.

"It's a very Greek idea and a very profound one. Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it. And what could be more terrifying and beautiful, to souls like the Greeks or our own, than to lose control completely? To throw off the chains of being for an instant, to shatter the accident of our mortal selves? Euripides speaks of the Maenads: head thrown I back, throat to the stars, "more like deer than human being." To be absolutely free! One is quite capable, of course, of working out these destructive passions in more vulgar and less efficient ways. But how glorious to release them in a single burst! To sing, to scream, to dance barefoot in the woods in the dead of night, with no more awareness of mortality than an animal! These are powerful mysteries. The bellowing of bulls. Springs of honey bubbling from the ground. If we are strong enough in our souls we can rip away the veil and look that naked, terrible beauty right in the face; let God consume us, devour us, unstring our bones. Then spit us out reborn."....The Secret History 

Monday, February 8, 2021

Book Review: Mind the Gap, Dash & Lily by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan


Goodreads Overview:

Dash and Lily were feeling closer than's just too bad they're now an ocean apart. After Dash gets accepted to Oxford University and Lily stays in New York to take care of her dogwalking business, the devoted couple are struggling to make a long distance relationship work. And when Dash breaks the news that he won't be coming home for Christmas, Lily makes a decision: if Dash can't come to her, she'll join him in London. It's a perfect romantic gesture...that spins out of Lily's control. Soon Dash and Lily are feeling more of a gap between them, even though they're in the same city. Will London bring them together again--or will it be their undoing?

Jacque's Review:

I loved Dash & Lily's Book of Dares and watched the Netflix series as a refresher prior to reading this book. I have also read the 12 Days of Dash and Lily and don't think either of the sequels really lived up to the expectations of the original book. They were cute and entertaining stories, but they didn't have quite the same magic as the original.

I love London, so a book with Dash & Lily in my favorite city was sure to be a winner. After the 12 Days of Dash and Lily, I was hoping there would be less drama in their lives. Instead, Dash is second guessing his life long dream of attending Oxford. The one positive is that Dash has the chance to spend time with his father's mother, who lives in London. When he was a child she sent him an Oxford sweatshirt, which first planted the Oxford seed in his mind. In addition, she always sent him books, which he absolutely loved and cherished. He and his grandmother hit it off from the very beginning and it is nice to see them enjoying each other's company. He has never been close to his parents, so this was something he desperately needed.

Lily is struggling with her own indecision. Her mother wants her to attend her alma mater in New York, but Lily isn't sure college is for her. She has taken a gap year to grow her dog walking and craft business and has experienced some success. She would like to attend a dog training program in London, but she doesn't want everyone to think she is just following Dash. She also doesn't know what Dash will think about the idea.

When Dash decides to stay in London with his Grandmother for Christmas, Lily decides to send Dash a personalized handmade advent calendar. It was a really cute idea and went along with the book of dares theme, which I enjoyed. I just wish it could have been more of a cute love story as they explored London for Christmas, but everything spiraled out of control.

Some of our favorite characters from the first two books surface to help guide and support Dash and Lily with their struggles. Mrs. Basil E., Langston, Boomer, Sophia, and Mark all make appearances. We are also introduced to a couple of Dash's acquaintances from Oxford.  Overall, I enjoyed the story and was happy with how it ended. I wouldn't, however, recommend reading this book as a stand alone. Without the backstory from the pervious books in the series, I don't think readers will fully appreciate the story. Start with Dash & Lily's Book of Dares. It is the best book in the series and introduces you to all of the characters.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Book Review: Zero Day by David Baldacci


Jacque's Review:

I have read all of Baldacci's King and Maxwell series and decided to start the John Puller series. The King and Maxwell series was about a couple of former secret service agents who become private investigators. I loved that series and hope he will release additional books, but this is another great series with a similar feel.

John Puller is a former Army Ranger and war hero. He is now working for the Army's Criminal Investigations Division and is one of their top investigators. When a Colonel, his wife, and two children are found murdered in a small town in West Virginia, Puller is sent to investigate. He finds the situation extremely unusual because he would usually be accompanied by a team of investigators. In this case, the Army insists he must work alone. The Colonel had access to high level classified information and Puller is convinced the Army is trying to keep something under wraps. He begins collaborating with Samantha Cole, who is a local police officer. She was born and raised in Drake and her brother-in-law is by far the wealthiest man in town. He owns and operates a coal mining business and has a number of other businesses in town. Teaming up with Cole gives him access to just about everyone and everything in town.

When additional bodies start turning up and attempt are made on Puller and Cole's lives, they begin to realize this is more than just a military or personal family matter. The colonel wasn't the victim of a random act of vilience and the killers are still after something. Puller and Cole must get to the bottom of things before the entire town falls victim. 

This was a fast paced and highly entertaining start to the series. If you enjoy murder mysteries / thrillers, this was an excellent read. I wasn't able to unravel the mystery until everything was pretty much spelled out for me in the end, but it made perfect sense in retrospect. I will definitely continue the series to see what is in store for Puller in The Forgotten.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Spotlight: All the Tides of Fate by Adalyn Grace

So, who here picked up All the Tides of Fate by Adalyn Grace when it published on February 2nd? I was waiting for this one to come up so I could read it and All the Stars and Teeth back to back, so now that they are both here -- I am ready!

How it started: 

All the Stars and Teeth 

Book Summary

Set in a kingdom where danger lurks beneath the sea, mermaids seek vengeance with song, and magic is a choice.

She will reign.

As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer — the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.

When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.

But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder — and more peril — than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.

I am the right choice. The only choice. And I will protect my kingdom.

How it's going:

All the Tides of Fate

I won't put the book summary here because I want to be sensitive to spoilers. But these covers are gorgeous and I cannot wait to dive into this duology!

Have you read them? Let me know your thoughts if so. If you haven't and you want to join me as I read them, then let me know! 🤗

For more information:

Visit Adalyn's website:

Friday, February 5, 2021

Book Review: The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles


Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet has it all: her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into Paris, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her beloved library. Together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. But when the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal.

Montana, 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager looking for adventure in small-town Montana. Her interest is piqued by her solitary, elderly neighbor. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor’s mysterious past, she finds that they share a love of language, the same longings, and the same intense jealousy, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them.

A powerful novel that explores the consequences of our choices and the relationships that make us who we are—family, friends, and favorite authors—The Paris Library shows that extraordinary heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest of places.


I have a natural love of history, I grew up with a father that was a history buff and he engrained that love in me. I would say that at least if not more than 1/4 of my bookshelves are stacked with books from my favorite historical time period because every history buff has one they gravitate to. So it stands to reason I am also a big fan of Historial Fiction. 

When it comes to reading Historial Fiction I do gravitate to WWII, maybe because it is not so distant in the past, or that being Jewish, it reminds me of the horrible obstacles my people overcame, or that it is a way to learn and honor the 6 million Jewish people that died for no reason other than believing differently than others. Mostly I think I enjoy the stores of the preserver of the common people, the ones who quietly fought against the Nazis away from the front lines, their small stories and actions are what made this was so different from others.

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles was the first HF book I picked up this year. Drawn to it by its gorgeous cover, I was quickly taken in by the story, especially having had worked in a library for years. The story has dual storylines. One taking place in 1939-1944 during the war, and the other later in the 80s. It is the story of Odile Souchet, a young determined girl who gets her dream job at The American Library in Paris ( ALP ) It also features Odile in later years living in America in a small Montana town, lonely and alone until she meets her neighbor Lily who comes to visit wanting to interview her for a High School class.

While I enjoyed the small glimpses of Odile in the more present day, the part of the book that captivates me was the period in Paris during the war. I fell in love with the American Library and understood Odile’s need to work there. I also fell in love with the people of the library, they were the soul of the building. As a former librarian, I understood their need to make sure people were able to read,  the need to get books to people who wanted them, such as the soldiers and the Jewish subscribers that had been banned from reading. In fact, for the book to have taken place in WWII, there is little mention or details of the war, you are transported to the library during the occupation of Paris by the Nazi’s. That is the purpose of the book, showing how the library and the people inside risked their lives for the love of books and reading.

The entire book was well researched by the author. Many of the happenings and people in the book are base on truth and real people, it is a flawless blend of fact and fiction that will keep you captivated. The Paris Library held so much magic for me. The friendships, and how they are depended on trust and easily torn apart when that trust is tested. The love of family, and how the dynamics of a family can change at any given moment. But mostly it was reading about the power of books and literature, and how much these things actually mean to people, especially when they are no longer readily available, and people who are willing to risk their lives to continue to provide the means to read.

** Thank You Net Galley for providing me with a review copy **

American Library in Paris 

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Book Review: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen


Goodreads Overview:

Last year, Annabel was "the girl who has everything" — at least that's the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf's Department Store.

This year, she's the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.

Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen's help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.

Jacque's Review:

If you enjoy YA contemporary, you really can't go wrong with Sarah Dessen's books. I have read a four of them so far and they are always very unique and thought provoking. I enjoy the fact that they are stand alone novels that I can pick up and read without a lengthy commitment, which is hard to find these days.

In Just Listen we are introduced to Annabel, who is high school student and a local model. Her sisters were models and it was just assumed she would follow in their footsteps. When her older sisters leave home to pursue their education and careers, Annabel becomes her mother's primary focus. Her mother doesn't work outside of the home and has always managed her daughter's modeling schedules for joy and fulfillment. When Annabel's grandmother passes away, her mother takes it very hard and experiences severe depression. The one thing that seems to pull her out of the darkness is Annabel's modeling. Annabel really wants to tell her mother that she wants to quit modeling, but she just can't bring herself to do it.

Owen is a transfer student with a reputation for being a bad boy. There are all sorts of rumors circulating the school about him, but nobody really knows the truth. When Annabel and her best friend Sophie have a falling out, Annabel finds herself on the outside looking in. She was once one of the popular girls who seemed to have everything, but now she doesn't feel like she has a single friend in the school. She begins talking to Owen, who can usually be found ignoring everyone listening to his iPod, and discovers there is a lot more to him than she ever imagined. 

Owen has learned that honesty is the best policy and he can't understand why anyone wouldn't just tell exactly what is on their mind. Annabel can see the benefits that could be achieved by getting things off of her chest, but she is such a nice person and doesn't want to say things that could potentially upset or offend others. She also has some secrets she isn't quite sure she wants to tell. Throughout the book we see Annabel's struggles as she weighs her options. She eventually needs to decide if her secrets are worth losing one of the best friends she has ever had. 

I really enjoyed this book and will continue working my way through Sarah Dessen's other books on my TBR list. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Book review - Black Canary: Breaking Silence by Alexandra Monir

Book Summary

THE HANDMAID’S TALE meets the DC universe in this breathtaking, thrilling origin story of Black Canary. Her voice is her weapon, and in a near future world where women have no rights, she won’t hesitate to use everything she has to fight back.

Dinah Lance was seven years old when she overheard the impossible: the sound of a girl singing. It was something she was never meant to hear—not in her lifetime, and not in Gotham City, taken over by the Court of Owls. The sinister organization rules Gotham as a patriarchal dictatorship, all the while spreading their influence like a virus across the globe.

Now seventeen, Dinah can’t forget that haunting sound, and she’s beginning to discover that her own voice is just as powerful. But singing is forbidden—a one-way stop to a certain death sentence. Can she balance her father’s desire to keep her safe, a blossoming romance with mysterious new student Oliver Queen, and her own desire to help other women and girls rise up and finally be heard? And will her voice be powerful enough to destroy the Court of Owls once and for all?

Flo's Review

I've been enjoying the DC Icons series, so I was super excited to learn about a new addition! I wanted Black Canary as soon as I heard about it. Believe it or not, I was not really familiar with Black Canary and the Birds of Prey before reading this, so I didn't come in with any preconceived notions or expectations. 

Dinah was a little bit whiny, but her Gotham City sucked, so I understand. (That was pretty much one of my status updates for the book -- lol.) There were a few characters of whom I wasn't quite sure their allegiances, and I enjoyed seeing where they ended up. (Well, by "enjoyed" I mean that one broke my heart, but you know.)

Black Canary is a great installation to the DC Icons series -- action-packed, engaging, and fun from beginning to end. I would recommend picking it up if you're intrigued.

Book Review: The Queen & Di by Ingrid Seward


Goodreads Overview:

As the editor of Majesty magazine, author Ingrid Seward developed professional and personal relationships with the royal family. In "The Queen & DI," we discover a surprising portrait of the British monarch and the princess, contradicting what the press has previously reported: a fragile Diana battling an unfeeling mother-in-law. And we glimpse much more of the inner workings of the extended royal family.Entertaining and factual, "The Queen & DI" stands apart and above the countless, often inaccurate, accounts published to date about Diana. Ingrid Seward reveals for the first time the true relationship between two important women of the 20th century.

Jacque's Review:

I am a fan of the royal family and have followed all of the pomp and circumstance for decades. I have read several books about Diana, but this may be the only one that I have read that provides an honest portrayal of some of the relationships and events that took place behind the palace walls. In the Charles and Diana drama, I was Team Diana. After her tell all interview about how there were three people in the marriage from the very start, you couldn't help but feel sorry for her. 

This book explores how Diana was very accommodating and went above and beyond to fit into the royal family up until she was actually engaged to Charles. Once they were engaged, she shut down completely and would lock herself in her rooms. She had depression, an eating disorder, and an insatiable appetite for attention and approval. This did not sit well with Charles who was brought up as the heir to throne. He did not appreciate being constantly upstaged by his wife and could not figure out how to communicate with her. They did not have any of the same interests or hobbies, so the marriage appeared to be doomed from the start.

The Queen is often portrayed as cold and set in her ways, but this books shows how she was one of the last members of the family to support Diana. She was well aware of the drama that was taking place. She tried to provide guidance and emotional support to her daughter-in-law, but even she grew tired of the outburst and arguments. 

After reading this book, I actually have an appreciation for Charles. I now believe they were equally responsible for the demise of their marriage and can see things from both points of view. Charles isn't the villain the tabloids made him out to be and Diana wasn't a saint. They were rushed into a marriage neither was prepared for and they simply weren't compatible. If they had been given more time to date, perhaps they could have avoided the years of pain and anguish.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Book Review: This Is Not the Jess Show by Anna Carey

Goodreads Summary

Black Mirror meets My So-Called Life in this fast-paced, timely YA thriller about separating fact from fiction--and how far we'll go to create our own version of reality.

Like any other teenager, Jess Flynn is just trying to get through her junior year without drama ... but drama seems to keep finding her. Between a new crush on her childhood best friend, overprotective parents cramping her social life, and her younger sister's worsening health, the only constant is change--and her hometown of Swickley, which feels smaller by the day.

Swickley is getting weirder by the day, too. Half the population has been struck down by a mysterious flu. Conversations end awkwardly when Jess enters the room. And then one day, a tiny, sleek black device--with an apple logo on it--falls out of her best friend's backpack and lands at Jess's feet.

Flo's Review

What fun this book was! It's been awhile since I've had that, "I need to go to bed...okay, I'll read one more chapter. Just one more," and then actually read 3 or 4 more before grudgingly putting the book down. This book surprised me from about 25% in. I knew the premise, but I didn't know what Anna Carey was going to do with the plot, and it was interesting to see how the story unfolded.

This is a hard review to write, because I want to keep it spoiler-free, and as you can tell from the summary, pretty much anything I say might be considered a spoiler - LOL. But I will say that the action was non-stop, the pacing was very well done, and -- as I said before -- it surprised me. I loved the concept and was throughly entertained throughout.

This Is Not the Jess Show publishes February 2nd from Quirk Books, and I think you should pick it up.

Thank you to Quirk for providing me with an advance reader's copy in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Book Review: Shipped by Angie Hockman


Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it.

The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position. Although they’ve never met in person, their epic email battles are the stuff of office legend.

Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos—the best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands...together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard.

With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live?


I loved this book so much, it was one of those books that you read to escape, and get exactly what you think you’re going to get.

I am a big fan of the enemies to lovers trope so the story of Henley ( named for Don Henley of the Eagles, and has a sister named Walsh ) and Graeme and their fight to win a prized job position they were competing for was absolutely perfect and the read I needed to get out of a bit of a slump.

They are sent on a company cruise to the Galapagos Island, whoever comes back with the best marketing idea for the cruise, which is in a bit of a slump, will be handed the coveted position. Let the hilarity begin…

Graeme is charming, and he is good looking and he quickly has everyone, including me, enamored with him. Everyone that is except Henley who has never met him except on zoom calls, and dislikes him for his arrogance. Henley is a hard worker, and she is loyal and out to achieve the goals she has set for herself, but it isn’t easy for her in a business that is dominated by men. She is easily likable to the reader and you will find yourself rooting for her.

The banter between Henley and Graeme is ideal. Graeme’s snarky remarks will have you easily laughing. He is sweet, and underneath he is deeply emotional, intact he is the perfect book boyfriend despite the arrogance. The chemistry and tension between the two are incredible and you will soon be wanting them to kiss, and maybe to start tearing off some clothing. It is sweet and just steamy enough without going overboard.

The secondary characters I enjoyed are Walsh, Henley’s sister who comes on the cruise with her to help give her an outsider's view of what could be improved. She is flighty, going from one job to another, flirty,  and probably a bit spoiled, but she looks up to her big sister and truly wants to help her. And then there was Nikoli, truly one of my favorite characters of the book, and I feel he brings so much humor to the story, it would be lacking without him.  A big hurley Russian with the hots for Henley, he will have you laughing out loud at his awkwardness. Trust me when I tell you he is unforgettable.

Y’all this is Angie Hockman's debut novel. It is easy to forget that as you read, as it is well written, the characters, all of them are memorable, the descriptions are so good you can see the places in your mind as you read along and most of all it is fun. 

Remember that tropical vacation we all dreamed about taking or were missing when we were locked down? No worries, grab you a tropical drink ( don’t forget the umbrella ) and a copy of Shipped, and it will almost have you thinking you were there.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Book Review: The Perfect Guest by Emma Rous


1988. Beth Soames is fourteen years old when her aunt takes her to stay at Raven Hall, a rambling manor in the isolated East Anglian fens. The Averells, the family who lives there, are warm and welcoming, and Beth becomes fast friends with their daughter, Nina. At times, Beth even feels like she's truly part of the family...until they ask her to help them with a harmless game--and nothing is ever the same.

2019. Sadie Langton is an actress struggling to make ends meet when she lands a well-paying gig to pretend to be a guest at a weekend party. She is sent a suitcase of clothing, a dossier outlining the role she is to play, and instructions. It's strange, but she needs the money, and when she sees the stunning manor she'll be staying at, she figures she's got nothing to lose.

In person, Raven Hall is even grander than she'd imagined--even with damage from a fire decades before--but the walls seem to have eyes. As day turns to night, Sadie starts to feel that there's something off about the glamorous guests who arrive, and as the party begins, it becomes chillingly apparent their unseen host is playing games with everyone...including her.


If you are a lover of gothic fiction you will enjoy the new book The Perfect Guest by Emma Rous which is a modern take on the genre.  Raven Hall, an aging manor home that has been in the family for generations has loomed heavily over the story, and that alone gives it the gothic feel. 

The book centers around two main POVs that scan different times, Beth who is in 1988, an orphan who has been chosen to come to Raven Hall to be a companion to Nina, a girl her age who is kept in confine to the grounds of the manor by her mother. Beth gets pulled into a strange game of dressing up and posing as Nina, by Nina’s parents when her grandfather comes to visit. Nina is sick each time he visits, and Beth seems to think she is being poisoned.

Sadie is the second POV and is based in the year 2019, she is invited to Raven Hall to be a performer at a murder mystery weekend at the manor home. But soon enough one of the performers shows up missing. 

There is also an occasional third POV that neither the name nor the time is known, but it seems to be also somewhere in the past. 

The book is suspenseful, complex, and complicated, and I didn't always know where the story was going or even when it would end up, but I kept reading anxiously to find out the secrets of each of the main characters. There are also several secondary characters in the story, and it is sometimes confusing trying to keep up with them all.  

The book is split into two parts, the second part is shorter and ties everything up, but not before a few twists and turns that finally reveal who the characters are and what their secrets are. I did find a few of the twists at the end to be a bit far fetched, but the book was an enjoyable and easy read.

The Perfect Guest is a thrilling mystery that will keep you guessing until the end, but it is also a family drama that deals with obsession and risking everything to be able to keep what you really love. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021


I love the romance genre…everything about it. Yes, some are sappy and fluffy, but I need that in my life, and yes, I do watch Hallmark…sue me.  I especially love Rom-Coms. Long ago when Confessions of A Shopaholic came out I picked it up and have been hooked ever since. I see myself in the characters, more so than I would ever see myself in a mystery or thriller, I would never be in a situation most of them are in, I am not one to take chances or that much adventure. I am a person though that is clumsy, a bit goofy, guarded with my heart, and yes, a bit of a shopaholic  Rebecca Bloomwood and I have LOADS in common. Remember that time she was in New York and took that tour of Fifth Ave? 

It’s Saks Fifth Ave. Right there, across the street. One of the most famous department stores in the world…. ‘ This is one of New York's most famous landmarks ‘ he says with a gesture ‘ Many New Yorkers regularly visit the magnificent place of worship once a week or even more often. Some even make it here daily. We don’t have time to do more than a quick look inside…..’

’Shall we go in? ‘ says Christop at last

‘Absolutely! ‘ I say joyfully and hurry across the street toward the entrance. It is only as my hand is actually on the door that I realize no one else is with me. Where have they all gone? Puzzled I look back and the rest of the group is processing into a big stone church….


Oh, I see. When he said ‘magnificent place of worship’ he meant….

Laughing out loud and having to read it to my husband, he asked if Sophie Kinsella had ever met me.

I get excited every month for the new ones to hit the bookstores, with their candy-colored covers and realness of the characters ( for the most part ) so here are 8 upcoming Rom-Coms I am looking forward to over the next few months.

MUCH ADO ABOUT YOU by Samantha Young

Release date February 2

Run Away to England with Evangeline Starling to a quaint village that includes a temporary job at Much Ado About Books, the bookshop underneath her holiday let where she meets local farmer Roane Robson. But does she risk a holiday romance that has the potential of breaking her heart?

THE LOVE SQUARE by Laura Jane Williams

Released February 9

Can unlucky in love Penny Bridge actually find love?  Penny suddenly has plenty of romance in her life when a man comes her way, and then another one, and another one. Will she learn to trust and love again, and which of these remarkable men, if any will she fall for?


Released March 9

We were introduced to the  Brown sister ins Hibbert's book Get A Life Chloe Browm, and she is back with book three of the Friends book series and this one is all about flighty sister Eve as she descends on Jacob Wayne and his Bed and Breakfast, turning his world upside down.

FLOAT PLAN by Trish Doller

Released March 2

Heartbroken after the loss of her fiancĂ© to suicide, Anna takes a cruise in the sailboat he left her, one they were supposed to take together. She hires sailor Keane to operate the boat after a rough stormy night. This romance, though does have funny moments is more about finding love after a loss and starting over. This is Doller’s debut adult book.

LIFE’S TO SHORT by Abby Jimenez

Released April 6

From the author of The Happily Ever After Playlist, Vanessa Price quits her job so she can live her life. After neither her mother nor sister made it to the age of 30, she no longer wants to take it for granted. She finds herself somehow in charge of a baby and living next door to hot lawyer Adrian Copeland. Too bad, she has taken a vow not to get involved.


Released  May 11

Beach Read’s Emily Henry is back with a new book titled People We Meet on Vacation. Long time best friends until a falling out during one of their yearly vacations together ruins their friendship, Poppy missed what she once shared with Alex and is determined to get their friendship and hopefully more rekindled when she asks him to take one more vacation together.

ONE LAST STOP by Casey McQuiston
Released June 1

The author who gave us Red White and Royal Blue ( who didn’t love this romance? ) is back with her second book One Last Stop. The book is a bit of a spa on Kate and Leopold that is the story of August who doesn’t believe in once in a lifetime love but falls for Jane her subway crush who is stuck in time from the 70s. Sounds perfectly magical and sexy.


Released July 13

Rich Hollywood It girl Piper is cut off from her money, finding herself stuck in a small Northwest beach town. There she meets Brandon, a gruff but sexy sea captain who doesn’t think she belongs in the town of Westport or that she can last a week away from the bright lights and luxury of LA. Will she stay or will she go?