April 29, 2018

Series Sunday: Murder with Fried Chicken and Waffles

(Mahalia Watkins Soul Food 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.

My Series Sunday pick is Murder with Fried Chicken and Waffles, the first book in the Mahalia Watkins Soul Food Mystery series by A.L. Herbert. Welcome to Mahalia's Sweet Tea—the finest soul food restaurant in Prince George's County, Maryland. It is famous for it's cornbread and mashed potatoes that make you want to slap yo' mama. The owner, affectionately nicknamed Halia, has her hands full cooking, dipping, and solving an unexpected mystery.

"It's all such a mystery. One minute he's enjoying my fried chicken and waffles, and, next thing you know, he turns up dead." ~ pg. 127

When a fast-talking shady entrepreneur turns up dead in her kitchen, Halia acts on impulse. Determined to keep her restaurant out of the news, she cleans the fingerprints off the weapon, a cast iron skillet, and moves the body to a neutral place. But Halia's efforts only point a finger at her young cousin as the prime suspect.

"You was the Lucy in this episode, Halia. I was just the Ethel." ~ pg. 111

Soul Food + Mystery = Fictional Greatness. Nothing says cozy like a mystery served with fried chicken. How come no one else thought of this? And how am I just now discovering this series? And why are there are only two (2) books?! Okay, let me calm down. At least enough to recommend you check out this series if cozy foodie lit is your thing.

Author: A.L. Herbert
Published: February 2015
Pages: 276
Edition: Paperback
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤

April 27, 2018

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.

"It started out as a typical Saturday night. And by typical, I don't mean normal in any mainstream American way."

~ All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin 

April 26, 2018


"The good book says to love your neighbor. No one in it moved next door to a Lawson." ~ 22%

Inheriting a house is usually good news, right? Especially when it comes with an attractive, tall, dark and sexy neighbor. Not the case for Alex Bridges when she learns of the legendary hundred-year old family feud. That sexy neighbor is her enemy. And there's an additional monetary inheritance at stake if she doesn't run him out of the neighborhood for good.

Feud was an impulse buy. If I am not familiar with the author, or not already granted an advance copy, then I stalk a book before buying. It helps curb my book budget. But the eBook was on sale for $2.99 and a couple of my bookhearts were reading it too. After seeing their delight, I immediately pressed "Buy and Send to Kindle." What a treat! Best three bucks I've spent in a while.

"It's easy to think Alex should be nicer when you're sitting on your fanny with a book in your hand." ~ 27%

How the author, Phyllis Bourne, went from being a newspaper crime reporter to comical romance fiction is beyond me. But I'm glad she found her true calling! The witty dialogue, the relatable characters and the pacing was perfect. I felt like a third main character eavesdropping on the neighborly feud shenanigans. Normally the character speaking directly to the reader (as in the quote above) would annoy me. But in Feud? Oh, it was genius! No exaggeration when I tell you I literally LOL'ed and said aloud, "Yessss, girl!" One scene in particular makes me chuckle now just thinking about it. I would love a follow-up book! Bookhearts, look no further for a cute quick read.

Title: Feud
Author: Phyllis Bourne
Published: February 2018
Pages: 150
Edition: eBook
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤


April 25, 2018

Only Child

"I wondered if your soul still has your face when it goes up to heaven, because otherwise how do the people who love you who are already in heaven know it's your soul and find you so you're not lonely and you can be together?" ~ pg. 67

Narrated by a seven-year-old boy, Only Child tells a terrifying story of a school shooting and the aftermath. First grader, Zach, is forced and squeezed into a closet with his classmates and teacher. This is not a drill. Zach can hear gunshots in the school hallway. A gunman has entered the building taking nineteen lives (including Zach's older brother). Needless to say, everyone involved will never forget this fateful day; multiple students, faculty and families are affected.

While Zach's mother blames the parents of the shooter and seeks justice, Zach replays the school shooting in his head and sorts through his feelings in a new hideout at home: yet another closet. His own journey through healing eventually helps adults to pull through the darkness and forgive.

"I never sat in a closet before today and yesterday, because closets are not for hanging out, they're for putting stuff away." ~ pg. 63

Only Child gave me all the vibes of Room and This Is Where It Ends. The intricate detail of a tragedy unfolding and raw emotions of young characters tug at your heart strings. The language of a child who is unaware of the magnitude of a situation. It makes you wonder "What if?" long after the book is finished. It also makes you wonder how can a kid so innocent handle such an unfortunate experience. Let alone help the adults heal, forgive and move forward. Little bodies have the biggest hearts!

Well done on your debut, Rhiannon Navin!

Title: Only Child
Author: Rhiannon Navin
Published: February 2018
Pages: 276
Edition: eBook
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤


April 24, 2018

Brunch at Ruby's

"Comfort, though, can make a person lazy. It can make someone take things and people and promises like 'till death do us part' for granted. Comfort makes people passive." ~ 6%

First of all, let's take a moment to admire the cover. How appropriate to the title! Every month, three friends meet for brunch at a local spot named Ruby's Soul Food Café. The usual orders are shrimp and grits for Renee, chicken and waffles for Maxine and an omelet for Debra. Brunch is like a support group; they share current happenings in their lives, ask and offer advice and go on about their day. Like true friends, they understand each other yet work each other's nerve.

The group of women are very much like the every day black woman in today's world. They are strong, dependable, successful and loyal to friendship. Renee runs the family-owned bookstore and takes care of her father, who was recently diagnosed with dementia. Love is the last thing on her mind. Maxine owns a real estate firm that caters to the high class. But she has yet to meet Mr. Rich Right. And Debra is a school principal, married for 14 years and raising a daughter; a big secret can ruin both her family and career.

"As long as I am making mistakes, I may as well make some that give me pleasure." ~ 20%

I guarantee readers will find similarities between these characters and yourselves. I sure did! Did a couple actions of one particular character annoy me? Of course. But I still cared about the outcome of her story. Did any passages make me nod or shake my head? Yup. I must admit that I hold a higher standard for debut novels. The author needs to draw me in or I am forever gone, very seldom giving a second chance. Kudos to D.L. White for developing relatable characters and pacing the story in Brunch at Ruby's. It is not what I deem a page-turner but more of a "settle in with a drink and take my time reading" kind of book. Now that's good writing!

Brunch at Ruby's is one of the many books that I downloaded onto my Kindle over a year ago and just got around to reading. Who knew this group of mature ladies with real life issues was sitting in my eLibrary just waiting to be read? I recommend it to bookhearts looking for a book about girlfriends with a strong bond. Brunch at Ruby's is especially ideal for a women's book club selection.

I am looking forward to reading the follow-up novel, Dinner at Sam's. If you scurry over to Amazon, you can buy both books for less than $4. Small price for good stories!

Title: Brunch at Ruby's
Author: D.L. White
Published: March 2015
Pages: 292
Edition: eBook
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤


April 22, 2018

Series Sunday: Q is for Quarry

(Kinsey Millhone #17) 

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.

"If you don't get to think about yourself when you're dying, when do you?" ~ pg. 84

My Series Sunday pick is Q is for Quarry, the 17th book in the Kinsey Millhone alphabet series by Sue Grafton. First of all, condolences to the family of late great international bestseller. She lost the battle against cancer in December. The alphabet now ends in 'Y'.

Almost twenty years ago, Detective Stacey Oliphant and Lieutenant Con Dolan worked a case on an unidentified young woman discovered decomposing near the quarry. The two cops cannot get this case out of their heads and enlist the help of Private Investigator Kinsey Millhone. After all, the body was found near her grandmother's property. So who is Jane Doe?

What makes Q is for Quarry so intriguing is it's based on fact. And what a core tale it is! I had no idea this cold case would get so interesting until I was halfway through and couldn't seem to stop reading. Now that I think about it—I was also eager for information on Kinsey's past; the Jane Doe based on real-life events was a bonus.

"Same apartment, same car, same work, same boyfriend in absentia in a relationship that was going no place." ~ pg. 5

And just when I think I'm getting a new tidbit about Kinsey's personal life, she clams up and is tight-lipped. Ugh! This is grating my nerve now. I learned more about police procedure than Kinsey's family history. Book number 17 and I can still count on one hand how many personal facts I know about this main character. This series is truly all about the mystery!

Author: Sue Grafton
Published: September 2003
Pages: 316
Edition: eBook
Challenge: Perpetual Kinsey Millhone
Rating: 🖤 🖤

April 20, 2018

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.

"Someone needs to turn the heat down out there. I'm about to sweat my wig off."

Murder with Macaroni and Cheese by A.L. Herbert

April 19, 2018

She Bad

I don't know what is worse. Not being acknowledged or believed because your pain is invisible, or the world treating pregnancy like it's a handicap. As a migraineur, I have firsthand experience with the former. But I have seen idiotic opinions about new artist Cardi B and her pregnancy. Bad timing, they say. Why did she get knocked up at the height of her career? How will she promote a new album and prepare for the arrival of a baby? 

Why can't women do it all? We are masters of multi-tasking. We are more than capable of giving our full attention to more than one thing at a time. Fine example: as I am typing this blog post, I am going over my To Do list in-my-head, planning tomorrow's outfit and baking banana nut bread. It comes naturally. It's what we, as women, do!

So when our bodies are in a God-given condition to birth life, why are we expected to lie on our backs, feet up? Ironically, the same position that...*loses WiFi signal*

My point is that women are strong enough to handle it all—physically, mentally, personally and professionally. We can totally do everything AT THE SAME TIME. We are valuable. There is a reason why eggs are expensive and sperm is cheap. Put some respect on our gender.


April 18, 2018

Stay with Me

"Besides, what would be left of love without truth stretched beyond its limits, without those better versions of ourselves that we present as the only ones that exist?" ~ pg. 70

Yejide and Akin met and fell in love at university. Even though many expected Akin to follow tradition and take extra wives, the couple decided polygamy was not the right choice for their relationship. Four years into the marriage and several visits to fertility doctors and healers, Yejide is still not pregnant.

Their family shows up unannounced at the doorstep one day with a young woman introduced as Akin's second wife. PLOT TWIST! Riddled with jealousy and completely blindsided, Yejide makes a sacrifice to save her family. Now more than ever is she determined to have a baby. Then it happens! But despite feeling the baby kicking every night, scans repeatedly show the pregnancy is not real. Wayment—stay with me...pun intended.

"The word crackled in my ears, iyale - first wife." ~ pg. 17

I have seen this novel everywhere! All over Instagram, Twitter. Goodreads and book clubs since its release over one year ago. I had to see what all the hype was about. My verdict: *so-so hand gesture* The premise itself was unique to American culture. Surely a second wife would not fly in the States, let alone moving her into the house and planning a baby. In that aspect, I was interested to read details of another culture. Then the story took a confusing turn. Was the first wife's pregnancy real or imagined? I was truly lost yet could not stop reading. Finally, it all came together in a neat odd package.

Title: Stay with Me
Author: Ayobami Adebayo
Published: March 2017
Pages: 231
Edition: eBook
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤


April 17, 2018

Bad Men and Wicked Women

"Like a prisoner, I sat in my mental cell, eyes closed, surrounded by a wall of old memories." ~ 8%

Ken Swift is a complicated man: tangled in romance by day, dangerous enforcer by night. Divorced from one woman, in love with another, in lust with a neighbor, and a strong desire to know a fourth woman. He is haunted by old memories that are suddenly in his face. His daughter Margaux appears out of nowhere demanding a large sum of money. Meanwhile, Ken Swift is actively working a major job that puts his life at risk.

The father-daughter reunion is bittersweet. Ken Swift wants nothing more than to rebuild a relationship and catch up on all he's missed in Margaux's life. But she is concerned with one thing only: getting $50,000 to solve a problem and help secure a future for her unborn child. If she has to blackmail her own father, then so be it.

Looking back on EJD's earlier works, it is evident that he has grown as an author and has a new writing style...a whole different genre actually (sensual thriller). His books were great then and classics now. Reading Bad Women and Wicked Women made me miss the older books: Genevieve, Milk in my Coffee, and Cheaters just to name a few. The lust is still there. The intense passion is magnified. But I miss the relatable characters. The characters in this new novel have little in common with the every day person. But kudos to the book cover that is an eye-catching representation of black art today.

"The eyes can never see their own face." ~ 58%

My main dislike of Bad Men and Wicked Women is the social activism rants disguised as lengthy dialogue. There are whole pages of one character rambling about bits of culture and politics. Yes, there are very good points addressed and topics mentioned that make you think. But it's just too heavy! In fact, it gives the impression that this is EJD spewing his own opinions through the pages of fiction. Perhaps this is the author's way of using his platform to bring awareness. I have come to expect a new EJD novel every April. Sadly, this one has let me down.

Happy Pub Day, Eric Jerome Dickey! Bad Men and Wicked Women is now available.

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 my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: Bad Men and Wicked Women
Author: Eric Jerome Dickey
Published: April 2018
Pages: 384
Edition: Galley
Rating: 🖤 🖤


April 15, 2018

Series Sunday: 17th Suspect

(Women's Murder Club #17) 

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.

"I'm connecting the dots this way." ~ pg. 240

My Series Sunday pick is 17th Suspect, the 17th book in the Women's Murder Club series by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. A confidential informant puts all her trust into Sergeant Lindsay Boxer to help catch an unpredictable killer targeting the homeless. Meanwhile, ADA Yuki Castellano brings an unusual case to the courtroom: a man accusing a woman of rape. With the help of Investigative Reporter, Cindy Thomas, and Chief Medical Examiner, Claire Washburn, the dedicated Women's Murder Club come together in the name of justice.

Did this new WMC novel hold my interest? Yes. Did it make me flip the pages? Nope. But somehow I still finished it one lazy day. There was one case in particular that was interesting and I was eager for the outcome. Otherwise, it was just okay. I need something big to happen to one of the main characters that could change the dynamic of the series. That will definitely renew the interest of fans.

17th Suspect is available to the U.S. on April 30, 2018. Reserve your copy with the local library or independent bookstore.

Title: 17th Suspect
Author: James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
Published: April 2018
Pages: 286
Edition: UK eBook
Challenge: Keeping Up with Patterson
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤


April 13, 2018

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 still remember the first time I tasted my grandmother's cornbread."

~ Murder with Fried Chicken and Waffles by A.L. Herbert

I'm baaaaaaack! Just in time for Mystery & Thriller Week 2018 and Friday the 13th. Nothing like a cozy mystery featuring characters of color and scrumptious soul food!