July 10, 2020

First Lines Friday


First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Grab your current read(s).
  • Share the first line(s).
  • Include the title and author.

"I am a white woman. I am standing beside a black woman."

~ White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo


 

April 7, 2020

Highest in the Room


Please Note: I interrupt this peep show to inform that LiteraryMarie.com is on Easter/Spring break. Wisely take this time to catch up on book reviews, lit tidbits and my blogmoir. Also review my Everybody vs. The RONA list of things to do while staying at home. Quarantine & Read Responsibly.

April 5, 2020

Series Sunday: A Deadly Inside Scoop

(An Ice Cream Parlor Mystery #1) 


Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Share your review/recommendation below.
  • Include the title, author and series name.

"Women, when they commit murder, like to use poisons and heavy objects. Men like guns and knives." ~ 54%

My Series Sunday pick is A Deadly Inside Scoop, the first book in the new Ice Cream Parlor Mystery series by Abby Collette. There is no fiction sweeter than a charming cozy mystery set in an ice cream parlor. The bonus is if it features a woman of color. Introducing Bronwyn "Win" Crewse! The recent MBA grad left New York to return home and run the family's ice cream parlor in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. She has worked hard to renovate Crewse Creamery from a novelty shop with a lottery machine to an upscale spot with a view of falls and custom ice cream made in-house by hand.

Just her luck, there were construction delays causing opening day to fall on the same day as early first snow. Who wants ice cream on a cold winter day? The entire first day goes by without any customers. What is worse is Win finds a body in the snow in the wee hours. It is not her business and she has no interest in solving the murder until her father is named a suspect.

"Dead Guy was Puppy Guy?" ~ 36%

Like all small town cozy mysteries, murder rarely happens. The small town outside of Cleveland, Ohio, is no exception. Though the pacing is a bit off. The dead body wasn't discovered until the very last sentence of Chapter 6. The victim was finally identified a third into the book. Kind of a late start to the mystery peppered with minor grammatical errors. Nevertheless, Win and her slightly annoying best friend, Maisie, are natural amateur sleuths. I like their teamwork, ideas and dialogue. Win's supportive close-knit family is also a bonus. I'm looking forward to the next book in series and recommend to all.

Kudos to the author for her descriptive narrative. I could picture the entire look of the shop through words. It was the right amount of detail without becoming too wordy. I could almost taste the ice cream flavors: Ghoulish Blueberry with fresh blueberries from a local farm; Caramel Corn made with actual corn from a cob; Cherry Chocolate Chunk Amaretto; Pralines and Cream made with sweet caramel, salty pecans and split vanilla beans. Even better, the author gifts readers with select ice cream recipes. What a yummy treat!  

Happy Early Pub Day, Abby Collette! A Deadly Inside Scoop will be available Tuesday, May 12.

Disclaimer: An advance copy was received directly from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Author: Abby Collette
Published: May 2020
Pages: 384
Edition: Galley
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤

April 3, 2020

First Lines Friday


First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Grab your current read(s).
  • Share the first line(s).
  • Include the title and author.

"The clack of Cole Haan oxfords announces Preston's arrival over the din of hits from the nineties and bar conversation. He likes to make an entrance, and tonight is no different."

~ A Thin Line by D.L. White 

   

April 2, 2020

I Tried to Change So You Don't Have To


"You can hustle and strive and work your ass off and plan for the future and make vision boards and to-do lists and set your eyes on the prize and then, when you least expect it, everything can blow up in your face and you're back to square one." ~ 81%

How many of us can relate to the statement above? In a new inspiring memoir, titled I Tried to Change So You Don't Have To, Loni Love stops trying to conform, embraces her flaws and tunes into her potential. Despite her last name, Loni grew up in a not-so-loving home. Without giving away her entire life's story, she went from growing up in the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects to earning an engineering degree then making it in show biz. It was not an easy journey.

Loni Love has worn many hats and crossed many paths in her young lifetime. She has been places and experienced more than most people ever would. This fact makes the book cover so perfect! Most importantly, Loni Love stayed true to herself through all phases of her life. It is indeed admirable. I appreciate her straight-talk, the funny lists at the end of every chapter and her sharing embarrassing mistakes, accomplishments and necessary changes.

"I got material out the wazoo." ~ 61%

I am a daily viewer of The Real where Loni Love is one of five co-hosts (all women of color). Her point of view is always appreciated and well spoken. However, I do not find her hilarious. Every now and then she delivers a funny one-liner. And her bits about cubicle life, that one black person in the office and a hard-knock life was chuckle-worthy. But I expected more LOL moments from a comedian.

When reading a memoir, I keep in mind that all things are not as it seems. Truth may be embellished. Situations may be lightened up. The line between fact and fiction might blur. Hence why I read all memoirs with a side-eye. I Tried to Change So You Don't Have To was no exception. My eyes rolled every time Loni Love mentioned the projects where she grew up on the east side of Detroit. "Brewster-Douglass" was mentioned over 60 times. This is no exaggeration; I started to count. Also, I find it very hard to believe that Loni Love graduated from Cass Tech High School, one of thee best public high schools PERIODT, but never once met with a college counselor. She goes so far as to question whether the school even had one. I call bullshit.

"That's a truth some people take a lifetime to learn." ~34%

But there are other sections where Loni Love talks about relationships, a career and opening up to change that resonate with me. For example, numerous people have suggested that I throw deal-breakers out the window and try online dating. I shoo those ideas away every time. But there was something about the way she words her own story of finding love that made me think hmmm, maybe I should approach dating differently.

Overall, Loni Love meets her purpose of providing readers with life lessons. Reminding us to be true to self and not conform to society's definitions. We control our own destiny. I may have issues with some content of the book but it does not negate her success, drive and spirit. I recommend it for every woman of color needing some real talk.

Happy Early Pub Day, Loni Love! I Tried To Change So You Don't Have To will be available Tuesday, May 5.

Disclaimer: An advance copy was received directly from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: I Tried to Change So You Don't Have To
Author: Loni Love
Published: May 2020
Pages: 272
Edition: Galley
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤

March 31, 2020

The Business of Lovers


"Philosophies collided. Reality and fantasy had a big disagreement." ~ 5%

I wait on new Eric Jerome Dickey releases like clockwork. Every April, I can count on a page-turning, sexy fictional novel that shows a colorful portrait of hard-to-forget characters. In The Business of Lovers, we meet two (2) brothers and three (3) women.

Allow me to introduce them. Dwayne Duquesne is hard on times. The formal child star has just been fired from his latest acting role and is broke after paying child support. He returns home to check on his teenaged son and to hopefully make amends with the spiteful mother of his son. Brick Duquesne is taking a break from the corporate world. He put his job on hold after a health emergency and nasty breakup with a woman he still loves. Brick spends his days playing security and chauffeur to escorts. His neighbor, Penny, is a college student in debt. Mocha Latte is a former engineer looking for real love. Christiana is a Cuban refugee playing pimp. It is not long before the trio convinces Brick to become an escort himself. Let the story sexily begin!

"Coochie for cryptocurrency?" ~ 39%

The title is perfect. Dickey pens a page-turner about the family we are born to, the family we choose and the business of lovers. It is oh so unconventional but it flows like a classic EJD novel. Signature clipped sentences. Characters searching for life's purpose while loving on one another. Emotional turmoil and internal debates on morality. Relationships based on lust and less trust. Cash only professions. And an unforgettable cast with alternating points of view. All elements of a good book!

So why not a solid 5⭐️ rating? Through some of the engaging dialogue between the characters, a few interesting things were mentioned that could have been expanded upon. It would've given a deeper look into the psyche of Dwayne and Brick. More background on Penny, Christiana and Mocha Latte would have been appreciated to fully understand why they chose sex work. Sure it was mentioned in a paragraph or two, but more character development could have added layers to the story.

Hopefully this prompts the author to revisit these folks in the near future. Maybe they can cross paths with other Dickey universe characters like Gideon, Margaux, Destiny or Ken Swift. Just the thought excites me! (If none of these names sound familiar, my dear bookheart, you have some reading to catch up on.)

"Time is the novocaine for the toothache in my heart." ~ 89%

Before I go, let me have my chance to shine. Thank you for the acknowledgment. You are welcome, EJD, for my being a loyal reader because without my help, you'd be sitting in a cubicle from 9-5pm unhappy, battling all the characters' voices in your head with co-workers that disregard your previous emails and wishing you were traveling around this great world writing for readers' pleasure. You too are the best of the best!

Happy Early Pub Day, Eric Jerome Dickey! The Business of Lovers will be available Tuesday, April 21.

Disclaimer: An advance copy was received directly from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: The Business of Lovers
Author: Eric Jerome Dickey
Published: April 2020
Pages: 400
Edition: Galley
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤

March 29, 2020

Series Sunday: 20th Victim

(Women's Murder Club #20) 


Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Share your review/recommendation below.
  • Include the title, author and series name.

"These vigilantes outnumber us." ~ pg. 201

My Series Sunday pick is 20th Victim, the 20th book in the Women's Murder Club series by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro. Three public figures. Three bullets. Three cities. Same damn time. Then more murders. Each one of the victims are shot and killed with the target precision of a professional. Also, each victim is found with a large quantity of illegal drugs. This is not recreational use; it is drug-dealing level. Someone wants these criminals off the streets. Vigilante on the loose? Justice shooter? Or stone-cold killer?

The Women's Murder Club (Homicide Detective Lindsay, Chief Medical Examiner Claire, Crime Journalist Cindy and Assistant District Attorney Yuki) scramble to solve their independent cases while keeping a healthy work-life balance. Two of the women are on the outs professionally, while another struggles with ethics/morality and the last woman is standing after a health crisis.

"Got a whole lot of parts on the floor of the shop, but can't make a car." ~ pg. 97

Have you ever read a series and started to dislike one of the main characters? Surely it is not just me. Well, Cindy, the nosy ass crime journalist, really grated my nerves in 20th Victim. What an annoying selfish friend she has become! I dreaded every chapter where she was the point of view. It made me appreciate the other three main characters more. It doesn't help that the lack of suspense and murder mystery took a backseat.

My new dislike for one of the characters is not enough for me to stop reading the Women's Murder Club series. I am still very much a fan. I still look forward to new releases even though 20th Victim was not a fast-paced thriller as the rest, despite the signature short chapters that I love. But please, authors I beg of you, reconsider the character development.

Title: 20th Victim
Author: James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
Published: May 2020
Pages: 348
Edition: UK eBook
Challenge: Keeping Up with Patterson; Popsugar—A Book with "20" in the Title
Rating: 🖤 🖤