September 22, 2016

On Holiday

I am on holiday but you can still keep in touch with me on Twitter and Goodreads. You can also visit for my live updates feed.


September 21, 2016

2016 Memes & Reading Challenges Update

2016 Goodreads Challenge: Read 69 books in 2016. 
Challenge Revised: Read 116 books in 2016.
Challenge Update: 97 books read so far.
2016 Page Count Challenge: Read 26,000+ pages in 2016.
Challenge Revised: Read 35,000+ pages in 2016.
Challenge Update: 28,499 pages read so far.

Perpetual Kinsey Millhone Challenge: Continue to read books in the Kinsey Millhone alphabet series by Sue Grafton.
Challenge Update: Read 0 Kinsey Millhone books so far.

Perpetual Jack Reacher Challenge: Continue to read books in the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child.
Challenge Update: Read 1 Jack Reacher book so far.

Keeping Up with Patterson Challenge: Continue to read books in the Alex Cross, Women's Murder Club and Michael Bennett series by James Patterson.
Challenge Update: Read 5 books so far.

2016 PopSugar Reading Challenge: Read a wide range of 40 books spanning genres.
Challenge Update: Read 31 Popsugar books so far.

2016 Bookish Kill Your TBR Challenge: 12 themes to help knock out titles on To Be Read shelves.
Challenge Update: Read 28 (9 themes) Bookish KYT books so far.

View all of Literary Marie's Memes and Reading Challenges here.


#KillYourTBR2016 September

  • Let's Play Make Believe ~ Two fresh divorcees don't believe in love at first sight but their first date becomes an intense game of make-believe. I didn't expect ANY of the twists in this book. Lots of suspense!
  • If I Did It ~ Supposedly this book is confessions from the killer, O.J. Simpson. This nig...
  • The McCullagh Inn in Maine ~ A woman escapes to Maine with a gun and fresh bruises. Her plans are to start anew until she runs into an ex. Romance mixed with cozy mystery made this easy to read in a few hours.
  • The Witnesses ~ A family is forced into hiding at a safe house because one of them stumbled upon a criminal plot. This was my least favorite BOOKSHOT. Not very gripping and the mystery was revealed in literally one sentence. I understand it is a short story but damn, elaborate a little.
  • 113 Minutes ~ This short eBook starts off with the murder of a teenage boy. His mom knows exactly who is responsible and takes the law into her own hands. The story abruptly takes off after page one and doesn't stop until page 144. My Pepsi can outlasted this story. That's how fast I read it!
  • I'm Thinking of Ending Things ~ This short book promises to pull readers in from the very first page and never let go. Probably because the best parts are the first sentence and the last scene. Seriously! That's it. Now I see why other reviews were not informative; it is hard to review without spoiling the story so just read it...or don't.
  • When You Reach Me ~ Four mysterious letters change a girl's life. But who are they from? And why do the letters include things that haven't even happened yet? Can a tragic death be prevented? On my TBR since it was published in 2009 and I finally get a chance to read it.
  • Trump vs. Clinton: In Their Own Words ~ Never would I have imagined bestselling author James Patterson writing a book about politics, let alone "everything you need to know to vote your conscience" in only 95 pages. It releases next Tuesday, September 27. I'll reserve my side-eye until I've read it. 

September is my most well-read month ever! BOOKSHOTS were perfect for this monthly challenge at less than 150 pages each. If you are interested in joining this challenge with me, visit Bookish for the deets. Share your progress using #KillYourTBR2016 on social media.


September 18, 2016

Series Sunday: Chase

(Detective Michael Bennett #9.5) 

Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Revision. 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.

My Series Sunday pick is Chase, #9.5 in the Detective Michael Bennett series by James Patterson. Mike is the NYPD's go-to problem solver for major crimes. Some even consider him a fixer. His hands are certainly full with ten children, a grandfather and girlfriend. It is amazing he has time for investigations let alone a suicide whodunit.

"Poli-tricks was actually kind of right." ~ pg. 23

A man falls to his death from the roof of a gorgeous brand new Manhattan hotel in front of multiple witnesses. Sure it looks like a suicide but is it really? Once Detective Michael Bennett is called on the case, he finds odd fingerprints and thousands in cash. Something isn't adding up.

What I like about BOOKSHOTS is the quick story in between major releases in series. It helps bridge the gap between reads. However, Chase is the first BOOKSHOT—out of the many I've read so far—to fall short. It could have been more suspense and personal to the characters. Bookhearts, you can safely skip this one.

Title: Chase
Author: James Patterson
Published: August 2016
Pages: 106
Challenge: Keeping Up with Patterson
Rating: ♥♥


September 16, 2016

First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Revision. 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.

"Though it hardly matters to a sarcastic person (who is most assuredly not in the business of making anyone feel better), those of you who appreciate sarcasm are a rare breed. But you, who are now honorary members of the National Sarcasm Society simply by virtue of holding this book in your trembling hands, have never courted popularity. Here, then, is your handbook. An A-to-Z guide to keep with you, should you ever need to set anyone straight..."

~ The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm: A Lexicon for Those of Us Who Are Better and Smarter Than the Rest of You by James Napoli 

*Not Approved for Use by Stupid People


September 15, 2016

Lit to TV Review: Queen Sugar

In the book version of Queen Sugar, a middle-aged black woman says goodbye to Los Angeles and hello to Louisiana when she inherits her late father's 800-acre sugarcane land. It is a chance for Charley Bordelon and her 11-year-old daughter, Micah, to start life over in new surroundings around family. She is unprepared and has no knowledge of cane farming but is determined to prove it is not just a white man's business. Charley is faced with challenges such as finances, growing season pains, a homesick daughter and a troubled brother. Sounds like a good southern tale, right?

Hmmm, not so much. I much preferred the television version of Queen Sugar. Very rarely is the movie or television adaptation better than the book, but in this case it is a huge difference for me. I struggled getting through the book to the point I dreaded picking it up to continue. I purposely left it at home so I wouldn't bore myself reading during commutes. My major issue is there was no climax. Like, at all. Ever. None.

The entire book was snooze-worthy; whereas the television show took a different turn. I have no idea why this book was chosen for an original TV series but thank goodness to show director and executive producers, Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey, for having the vision to slightly change character roles and the storyline. And what a great cast with chemistry! I very much enjoyed the show version of Queen Sugar and look forward to watching its first season.

Watch the official trailer of Queen Sugar below, skip the book then tune in Wednesday nights on OWN. Also stay tuned for a special announcement!

Title: Queen Sugar
Author: Natalie Baszile
Cast: Dawn-Lyen Gardner (Charley); Rutina Wesley (Nova); Kofi Siriboe (Ralph Angel); Omar Dorsey (Hollywood); Tina Lifford (Aunt Violet); Bianca Lawson (Darla); Dondre Whitfield (Remy); Greg Vaughan (Calvin)
Book Published: January 2014
Show Premiere: September 6 & 7, 2016
Book Pages: 372
Show Time: 2 Hours
Genre: American Drama
Edition: Hardcover
Challenge: Popsugar—A Book From Oprah's Book Club
Book Rating: ♥♡
Show Rating: ♥♥♥♥


September 14, 2016

It Ends With Us

"I am a brave and bold businesswoman with zero fucks to give for men in scrubs." ~ pg. 56

Lily has come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up in an abusive household. She graduated from college, moved to Boston and fulfilled her dream of starting her own business.

When she meets a hot neurosurgeon, Ryle, her life seems complete. Ryle and Lily first met one random night on a rooftop. Many moons later, they meet again and it is the perfect time. Perhaps too good to be true. As her new relationship overwhelms her, Lily begins reading old journals about her first love, Atlas. Then he suddenly reappears!

Chickadee's voice was heard whispering in my ear as I read It Ends With Us. It is the fictional version of RED FLAG! RED FLAG! It could possibly be a wake-up call to some readers. But most of all, this newly released novel is a love story that will warm your heart.

"Those words wrap around me like a warm blanket." ~ pg. 89

According to the Note From the Author, this is Colleen Hoover's most personal story. While reading, I thought either Colleen Hoover is one helluva writer that tapped into the minds of her characters or she is writing from real life personal experience. It digs deep. It is disturbing. I felt conflicting emotions, happy moments and sad-ready-to-tear-up times. Another author I like, Sarah Pekkanen, wrote the best blurb: "'ll be smiling through your tears."

Bookhearts, I do not say this lightly. It Ends With Us is one of my favorite books of 2016. I will think of these characters and their situation long after having turned the last page.

Title: It Ends With Us
Author: Colleen Hoover
Published: August 2016
Pages: 373
Edition: Paperback
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥


September 13, 2016

We Gon' Be Alright

"History reminds us that desegregation is not a destination, it is a constant struggle." ~ 31%

Hands Up! Journalist Jeff Chang writes about recent tragedies and nationwide protests. The chapter titles and essays are relevant to today's culture. In the Introduction—the first lines, actually—names of the fallen are written, the Black presidency is mentioned, and the national justice movement is brought to the reader's attention reminding us that black lives matter. Some of the essays are about diversity, #OscarsSoWhite, Ferguson, cultural equity and making Lemonade. Chang writes passionately yet informative. He reports facts while holding readers' attention.

It didn't hit me until I read it in print. We really are living during the longest rebellion in U.S. history against police brutality, as Reverend Osagyefo says in We Gon' Be Alright. This book is recommended for those that understand the collective outrage and grief. Chang successfully tells how there is resegregation in 2016.

I know it is summer and meant for light reading. But there is no perfect time to read such a serious book. I suggest We Gon' Be Alright for diverse book clubs and mature discussions. I give this new release an extra star for the title alone. How appropriate. How catchy. How very good timing. Kendrick Lamar's song, Alright, has been my theme song all year. In my head, I have named it the soundtrack to the Black Lives Matter movement. It gives us hope that yes, we gon' be alright.

Happy Pub Day, Jeff Chang!

Disclaimer: This book was received directly from the publisher for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are honestly my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: We Gon' Be Alright
Author: Jeff Chang
Published: September 2016
Pages: 208
Edition: Galley
Rating: ♥♥♥


September 11, 2016

Series Sunday: The Dead Boyfriend

(Fear Street Relaunch #5) 

Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Revision. 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.

"The frightening stories of the Fear family contained many murders." ~ 31%

My Series Sunday pick is The Dead Boyfriend, the fifth book in the Fear Street Relaunch series by R.L. Stine. Yes, the legendary Fear Street series is back! Teenage love can go wrong very fast. Seventeen-year-old senior at Shadyside High, Caitlyn Donnelly, is smitten with Blade; she hasn't had a real boyfriend before. Her feelings are written in her diary for only her eyes to see. When she catches Blade with another girl, Caitlyn snaps and kills him. There is only one other girl that knows Caitlyn is a teenage murderer: Deena Fear from the infamous Fear family. But they are both taken by surprise when the dead boyfriend starts to make appearances: at parties, across the street, at the funeral home and more.

"Since Blade died, my life is only sadness. And fear." ~ 2%

Back in middle school, I so looked forward to Scholastic newsletters. My parents didn't give me a limit or budget for books. Whatever I could read, I could order. Often times, Chickadee would read along with me. (I now understand that was her idea of surveillance. S/O to the parents who monitor children's reading material; shame if you don't.)

Fear Street novels by R.L. Stine were among our favorites to buddy read. We would discuss the plot, our like/dislike of the characters and speculate on the mystery. There was—and still is—a guaranteed twist at the end that we guessed about. We appreciated how R.L. Stine maintained a parental presence in the fiction books too. Very rare did the books actually spark fear yet the Fear Street series was always worth reading.

"You know all those crazy stories people tell about Fear Street." ~ 98%

Perhaps I am more well-read as a 30-something bibliophile or maybe I am too nostalgic, but The Dead Boyfriend was not as good as I remember the Fear Street novels to be. The story was choppy. The main character started off likable then drastically changed as if a ghostwriter picked up writing the story where R.L. Stine left off but didn't bother to research. For an avid teen reader, these elements may be noticeable. But for young kids in your life that are beginner readers, The Dead Boyfriend and Fear Street relaunch novels are recommended. And remember parents, buddy read with your child!

Disclaimer: This book was received directly from the publisher for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are honestly my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: The Dead Boyfriend
Author: R.L. Stine
Published: September 2016
Pages: 288
Edition: Galley
Rating: ♥♥


September 9, 2016

First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Revision. 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.

"Here I am, my dear diary, about to confide in you again. About to spill my guts, as I always do, only to you. This is the only place I can open my heart and talk about what I really feel. How many ballpoint pens have helped me share my story with you?"

~ The Dead Boyfriend: A Fear Street Novel by R.L. Stine


September 8, 2016

How to Make White People Laugh

"You could identify blackness by external appearance. I fail on that count." ~ pg. 2 failed at so much more. This book for starters. Y'all. I couldn't even finish this book. Comedy based on race is very tricky. You have to be funny but maintain respect and not exploit stereotypes. Author Negin Farsad took a slightly different, yet annoying, approach: by constantly mentioning she "grew up feeling black."

This not only annoyed me but by the fourth reference, I took offense. How the fuck do you grow up "feeling" black? Then compare blacks to Mexicans, Muslims or Iranians. My struggle is not your struggle. Blackness is not defined by its opposition to whiteness.

So you liked Roots. So you thought A Different World was "hot." So you obtained a graduate degree in African-American Studies. So you feel "un-American." So you recognize the country is obsessed with race. So you are defined as an "other" with a hyphenated identity. This does NOT make you black. Let me say it louder for the writers/comedians in the back: THIS DOES NOT MAKE YOU BLACK.

Negin Farsad, have all the seats in the front of the bus.

Title: How to Make White People Laugh
Author: Negin Farsad
Published: May 2016
Pages: 244
Edition: Hardcover
Rating: ♡


September 7, 2016

The Memory Book

"...but just let me write this, I just want you to remember this, Future Sam." ~ pg. 318

Can you imagine how it feels to start forgetting things? To be told your memory will never be the same? Sammie is a girl with a plan: graduate as valedictorian and go to college. But due to a rare genetic disorder, doctors say Sammie will start to lose her memory and health. So Sammie begins the Memory Book: notes to her future self documenting small and big memories.

The Memory Book also records her first date, her longtime crush, her childhood best friend, her school debate competitions and guest posts from family and friends. Written in journal format, The Memory Book is the story of a brave, intelligent young girl living the life she never planned.

I recommend The Memory Book if you are in the mood for a heartfelt story. Bookhearts, be warned: you WILL tear up.

Title: The Memory Book
Author: Lara Avery
Published: July 2016
Pages: 357
Edition: Hardcover
Challenge: Bookish Kill Your TBR—Read Consecutively
Rating: ♥♥♥♡


September 6, 2016

The Mother

"Before, a different era, the Before and the After, lifelines severed by a distinct demarcation forever. The life I lead now is in the After." ~ pg. 106

The Mother explores the emotional struggle of a devastated mother understanding her teenage son's death. Marcia Williams is consumed with grief and confusion. Why was her 16-year-old son brutally murdered? To help understand, she goes to court for the trial of the teenage boy accused of taking her son's life.

Marcia and Lloydie did everything right. They raised an intelligent, kind-hearted boy. How could he be dead? The Mother is a prime example of how one act of violence affects the lives of everyone involved. What a timely novel!

"I expected the walls to shake, the stand to spontaneously combust, expected his speaking to have the impact on the room around him that his actions have had on our lives." ~ pg. 214

I can say all day long how I would react if in a situation. Truth is, I don't know what my reaction will be until I am experiencing that moment. I cannot pretend to understand how it feels for a parent to lose a child to violence. But through descriptive words, honest dialogue and well-developed characters, I was able to get a gist.

It is not an exaggeration when I say The Mother is unputdownable. Even Chickadee read through it quickly in between hot jobs. It is the kind of book you carry around and pull out whenever you have a couple minutes to read. But be warned, bookhearts: it is emotional so be careful when reading in public.

I buddy read The Mother with my mother. What a good selection for us. I am looking forward to more discussion with Chickadee about the plot and ending. There are so many central themes and real life issues addressed within the pages of The Mother. For this reason, it will be a great choice for book clubs worldwide, group therapy sessions and social studies/psychology classes. Do not hesitate to add this hardcover debut novel to your TBR.

Title: The Mother
Author: Yvvette Edwards
Published: May 2016
Pages: 238
Edition: Hardcover
Challenge: Bookish Kill Your TBR—Read Consecutively; Popsugar—A Book Recommended by a Family Member 
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♡


September 4, 2016

Series Sunday: Bullseye

(Detective Michael Bennett #9) 

Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Revision. 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.

My Series Sunday pick is Bullseye, the ninth book in the Detective Michael Bennett series by James Patterson. In the middle of flipping pancakes and preparing breakfast for his family, Detective Mike Bennett receives intelligence warning that there will be an assassination attempt on the U.S. president. The details are sketchy. The leads are false. The sources are unreliable. But the Detective does his best to catch the target before triggers are pulled.

"The second they outgrow the playpen, it's over." ~ pg. 148

Please don't let this series start to fall by the wayside, Patterson. Just a couple books ago it was must-read, page-turning lit. Now? It was complete meh. Flat. It couldn't have been any more blah. The best part was the introduction of a new character that I hope is there to stay. Better luck next installment, okay guys?

Title: Bullseye
Author: James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
Published: Hardcover
Pages: 313
Edition: eBook
Challenge: Keeping Up with Patterson
Rating: ♥♥


September 2, 2016

First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Revision. 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.

"As I sit here with one foot on either side of the ledge, looking down from twelve stories above the streets of Boston, I can't help but think about suicide."

~ It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover 


September 1, 2016

Underground Airlines

"Why, this was an illegal regulation of trade!"

With the state of our communities, I was reluctant to read a book set in present-day with legal slavery existing in four states. Yes, smartphones and social media and crooked law enforcement is around. But the Civil War never happened. Thus slavery still exists in "The Hard Four."

The main character, Victor, is a bounty hunter in this fictional version of the United States. The US Marshall Service hires him to hunt down a runaway named Jackdaw. But something doesn't seem right to Victor. The case file is incomplete. His contact is acting strange. And tracking down Jackdaw through the abolitionist movement "Underground Airlines" is the hardest job Victor ever accepted. He finds out secrets of the country and the real meaning of freedom.

I purposely avoided the controversy surrounding the book release of Underground Airlines. I did not want news clips or articles influencing my opinion of the book. I wanted to read it with a clear slate and only my own side-eye.

Let me start with the hardcover image. A black face and airplane outline. A real black face. Not some random off-colored image. It was the perfect hardcover book to read in public. Until around the middle of the book where a couple chapters could've been deleted. I do not like fillers and unfortunately, Underground Airlines had more than a few. I struggled to not skim.

Underground Airlines is not a page-turner by any definition. As I stated earlier in my review, this may not have been the right time to read such a book. How close is this to the real America? If the author's purpose was to spur speculation and open the eyes of U.S. citizens, then maybe he succeeded. Ben H. Winters certainly turned my side-eye around.

Title: Underground Airlines
Author: Ben H. Winters
Published: July 2016
Pages: 322
Edition: Hardcover
Challenge: Bookish Kill Your TBR—Read Consecutively
Rating: ♥♥♥