August 30, 2020

Series Sunday: Midnight Sun

(Twilight #5) 


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 Midnight Sun, the fifth book in the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. It is the long-awaited companion novel to Twilight. Same story but told in Edward's point of view. I thought I wanted this. I waited impatiently for years. And now that it's published...

NOPE.

Author: Stephenie Meyer
Published: August 2020
Pages: 672
Edition: eBook
Rating: DNF

 

August 28, 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.

"Time runs my life. A constant measuring of what's gone and what's to come."

~ This Is My America by Kim Johnson 

 

August 25, 2020

Prozac Monologues


"People with bipolar, in our love of excess, have rich and varied life histories." ~ 40%

Any book summary that begins with, "She was going to stab her doctor, but she wrote a book instead." will catch my attention. Prozac Monologues is Willa Goodfellow's account of an antidepressant-induced hypomania, missed diagnosis of Bipolar 2, wrong medications and process of recovery. Part self-help, part memoir, Willa lets her voice from the edge be heard through essays.

I hate to sound like an infomercial but, if you or a loved one has more than depression, antidepressant side effects, curious about mental illness or lives with Bipolar disorder then Prozac Monologues may be for you. Be warned that it is very hard to follow (hence the low rating). I get the impression that the author was going through a manic episode while writing so some essays are disjointed, jumping from one topic to another without a smooth transition. An editor was needed to organize the scrambled thoughts on paper drafted in only two weeks. But again, you may already be familiar with the manic flow if you or someone you love is on the Bipolar spectrum. Give it a try if you can get past this.

Happy Pub Day, Willa Goodfellow! Prozac Monologues is now available.

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: Prozac Monologues: A Voice from the Edge
Author: Willa Goodfellow
Published: August 2020
Pages: 216
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€   

August 23, 2020

Series Sunday: Killer Kung Pao

(Noodle Shop #6) 


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 Killer Kung Pao, the sixth book in the Noodle Shop mystery series by Vivien Chien. Once again, you did not read wrong. No, you did not miss the first four book reviews of this series because I am going about this backward. This is actually just the second book of this series that I have read and reviewed but more about that later.

"Was it my lifelong dream to end up working for my parents and to leave work smelling like sweet and sour sauce on a daily basis? No." ~ 1%

Welcome to Ho-Lee Noodle House, a Chinese restaurant located in Cleveland, Ohio. Lana Lee is the manager of this family-owned restaurant and feeling stressed. Between organizing a sidewalk sale in the Asia Village, being a soundboard to ere'body and being overworked, she is beyond tired. Lana Lee does not have time to solve yet another local murder. But she's good at it.

June Yi is co-owner of Yi's Tea and Bakery. No one wants to get on her bad side. But she meets her match when she rear-ends mahjong player, Mildred Mao, in the Asia Village parking lot. Mildred can be a little sue-crazy so she demands that June Yi pay up, or else she will sue June Yi for everything she's got—including the bakery. So when Mildred is electrocuted while having a foot bath, guess who the main suspect is? Of course it is up to Lana Lee to figure out whodunit. 

"There are no Nancy Drew tendencies." ~ 16%

Being a Midwest resident, I know that Cleveland is not a small town. Yet the Asia Village is a small community of business owners and a tight circle. Everyone knows everyone and there are many connections, which makes the list of suspects long. Author Vivien Chien expertly throws clues and curveballs to throw the reader off and keep the mystery going. What began as a fender bender turned into a murder that kept Lane Lee on her amateur sleuth toes. What a whirlwind!

Even after reading Killer Kung Pao, this series has yet to wow me. But I like the main character, her police officer boyfriend, her bartender bestie and the close-knit Asian community. So now I will finally start this series from the very beginning. In case you missed it, check out last week's book review of Egg Drop Dead, the previous book in the Noodle Shop mystery series. As for the others, stay tuned!

Happy Early Pub Day, Vivien Chien! Killer Kung Pao will be available Tuesday, August 25.

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: Vivien Chien
Published: August 2020
Pages: 304
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

 

August 21, 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.

"History is fucking wild."

~ When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

 

August 19, 2020

An Untamed State


"What is truly terrifying is the exact knowledge of what will come and being unable to save yourself from it." ~ 23%

Life is a fairy tale for Mireille Duval Jameson. She is the daughter of one of Haiti's richest sons, married to a doting husband and mother to an adorable baby boy. The fairy tale is literally snatched away when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men. She is held captive while it becomes heartbreakingly clear that her rich father does not intend to pay her ransom. 

"If your child were kidnapped, would you be anywhere but near the phone?" ~ 53%

An Untamed State is on another literary level. This is probably the first book ever to haunt me. I think of the main character often. I think of the fear, betrayal, desperation and hope she must have felt. I wonder is it truly fiction or has some woman somewhere had a similar tragedy? Will governments ever not be corrupt? Will there always be a huge divide between privilege and poverty? I want to hug the author just thinking of the mental state she was in while writing this tale that needed to be told. I wonder if I have the courage to re-read it someday. But today, bookhearts, all I can do is recommend you read An Untamed State.

Title: An Untamed State
Author: Roxane Gay
Published: May 2014
Pages: 368
Edition: eBook
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

August 18, 2020

White Fragility


My final review of White Fragility is here

Title: White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
Author: Robin DiAngelo
Published: June 2018
Pages:168
Edition: eBook
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ 

 

August 16, 2020

Series Sunday: Egg Drop Dead

(Noodle Shop #5) 


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 Egg Drop Dead, the fifth book in the Noodle Shop mystery series by Vivien Chien. Yes, the fifth book so let me first explain. No, you did not read wrong. No, you did not miss the first four book reviews of this series. I am going about this backward. This series featuring a main character of color was recommended by Bookheart, Read in Colour. I immediately downloaded the first book of series but noticed a new installment just released. I am a sucker for reading books soon as published so I skipped ahead and borrowed it from the public library upon their reopening. Hence, why I begin at #5 Egg Drop Dead. Grab your own noodles and continue...

"...if you don't deal with your past, it's gonna come back and bite you in the bupkiss." ~ pg. 142

The Ho-Lee Noodle House is hired to cater a fancy, intimate dinner party by the pool. Unfortunately, their first-ever catering event turned into a murder scene when the nanny is found dead. With a house full of people, there is a long list of suspects starting with the party's host, Donna Feng. It is very suspicious that Donna asked Lana Lee to inconspicuously grab a thumb drive. Could it be a piece of evidence? Is there incriminating info on it? Who knows but Lana Lee intends to find out through her own amateur sleuth investigation. 

"Ah, like a game of 'telephone.'" ~ pg. 172

I love series, especially featuring main characters of color in a foodie cozy mystery. Lana Lee is the type of heroine I like. She is not the average fly-by-night type of girl, runs a restaurant, tries to please her mother like any good girl does and is occasionally-kinda-sorta-seriously dating a dude that is described as handsome. Throw in a little comedy, sarcasm and intuition and she's a keeper!

Even though Egg Drop Dead did not wow me, I am still pleased with the writing, the well-paced unfolding of the mystery, the mix of suspects and mini twists. This is obviously the first book I have read by author Vivien Chien. I am impressed and definitely looking forward to starting this series from the beginning. But first, I am going to stay ahead since I received an advance readers' copy of Noodle Shop #6 titled, Killer Kung Pao. As a matter of fact, I am cooking pork dumplings for lunch and settling in to begin reading on my fully charged Kindle. Bookhearts, this is your cue to catch-up with me!

Author: Vivien Chien
Published: February 2020
Pages: 301
Edition: Paperback
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

 

August 14, 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.

"In more than 25 years of working with people in business, university, and marriage and family settings, I have come in contact with many individuals who have achieved an incredible degree of outward success, but have found themselves struggling with an inner hunger, a deep need for personal congruency and effectiveness and for healthy, growing relationships with other people."

~ The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

 

August 12, 2020

Lit Tidbits: Pithy Picks IV


Even though my focus disappeared during the pandemic, I still managed to read a few books...or 12. 😏 Check out my pithy reviews below.

Title: A Bad Day for Sunshine
Author: Darynda Jones
Published: April 2020
Pithy Review: Is it ever a bad day of sunshine? And what a beautiful unique name for an author. This is why I chose to read this sunny bright book without a clue as to what it's about. I was pleased to see that it is the first book of a new series. There's a new sheriff in town that is a mix between Stephanie Plum and Kinsey Millhone. Her hands are full with finding a missing teen, a kidnapped rooster named Puff Daddy and a pesky flasher. What a hoot!
Quote Grab"Not all Mondays fall on a Monday." ~ 83%
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Forever, Interrupted
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published: July 2013
Pithy Review: Elsie and Ben fall in love within weeks. In just a few short months, they elope. Only nine days later, Ben is hit by a driver and killed on impact. Elsie heads straight to the hospital and meets Susan, the mother-in-law she never met and who doesn't even know Elsie exists. Awkward, yet the strangers are forever bonded and start the process of healing. 
Quote Grab"Consumed with dread." ~ 19% 
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️


Title: Nutshell
Author: Ian McEwan
Published: September 2016
Pithy Review: By far, thee most creative book I've read this year! A story of murder and deceit told from an unlikely, beyond clever point of view. I won't spoil it but wow!
Quote Grab"Perdition. A poet's word." ~ pg. 72 
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️





Title: Shades of Lovers
Author: Catarine Hancock
Published: April 2019
Pithy Review: A heartfelt collection of poetry navigating the delights and sorrows of love. I am not a fan of poetry but words packaged in a novel in the form of prose can sometimes get my attention. I'm glad I gave it a chance. Give your own love stories a moment of remembrance. 
Quote Grab"I will always be more than my pain." ~ 36%
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️





Title: Blindside
Author: James Patterson
Published: January 2020
Pithy Review: At least I managed to stay current on my Keeping Up with Patterson reading challenge! In this 12th installment of the Detective Michael Bennett series, the mayor's daughter is missing and the Detective's son is in prison. The two strike a deal. The investigation leads him into a triangle with NYPD, FBI and a dangerous criminal organization but, of course, he makes it out alive, well and back home to his ten kids. Just one father helping out another in a story that failed to thrill.
Quote Grab"Shock did crazy things." ~ pg. 247 
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️


Title: Wall of Silence
Author: Tracy Buchanan
Published: April 2020
Pithy Review: A mom in the suburbs returns home to her perfect family and sees the unimaginable. Her husband lies dead on the floor, bloody with stab wounds. And her loving children? Standing calmly around him. It seems one of them is to blame.
Quote Grab"I thought Dad's blood would smell of him, that soft citrus scent I've known all my life. But all I can smell on my hands are bitter pennies." ~ 1% 
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️


Title: A Thin Line
Author: DL White
Published: March 2020
Pithy Review: You know the typical main characters in a romance novel: fire and ice, oil and water, etc. But DL White created sexy characters in Angie and Preston. Their courtroom banter, the sexual tension, the mysterious history between them kept me flipping those ePages. It is a thin line between love and hate...and I sure enjoyed reading about theirs. 
Quote Grab"Confidence, love, satisfaction. If someone took a photo of me today, I don't think there would be any hint of that in my life." ~ 31%
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️



Title: The Perfect Secret
Author: Steena Holmes
Published: May 2020
Pithy Review: I really hate reading books with overused titles. It gives me the impression that the author just said, "I'mma just name this what fittylem other authors titled their books as." No effort it seems. But Steena Holmes put the creativity into the story, which I can appreciate. Starla Bishop is fresh out of jail and promises her mom she will stay on the straight and narrow. Then bodies start turning up in the gardens of her employer, which just so happens to be a landscaping business. Of course she is the prime suspect.
Quote Grab"Read the body." ~ 16%
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: A Good Luck F*ck
Author: Nicole Falls
Published: March 2020
Pithy Review: I am not one for holiday novellas, but the title, cover and author I could not resist. No need for a synopsis as you can guess the content. It is a cute, quick and current read. 
Quote Grab: "And the more this 'social distancing' is being encouraged day over day until this fuckass government decides to actually do something to help the general public?" ~ 19%
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️




Title: A Candy Coated Lie
Author: Jill Brock
Published: April 2019
Pithy Review: I'll be honest. I totally forgot about this series until I overheard the name Maggie in a conversation. Then I thought, what ever happened to Maggie and Odessa mysteries? It's been a good 6 or 7 years since I read the last installment. Welp, I should have left well enough alone. In book #5, Odessa is planning her wedding and trying to find out why a dead woman called her fiancΓ©. Girl, just ask him! 
Quote Grab"The vinegar to my baking soda." ~ 4%
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️

Title:
 The House of Kennedy
Author: James Patterson
Published: April 2020
Pithy Review: What was this? Really, JP? An opportunity to retell a real life mystery and this is what we get?! It so missed the mark. It was boring and read more like a history lesson rather than fact retelling of the Kennedy dynasty. This book should have been so much more!
Quote Grabn/a - I didn't even bother.
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️






Title: Five Feet Apart
Author: Rachael Lippincott
Published: November 2018
Pithy Review: I am going to sit on my hands and not type that this novel reminds me of those other young-adults-with-chronic-illness-fall-in-love-and-one-dies-who-is-cutting-onions-and-why-is-my-face-wet books.
Quote Grab"If this is all we get, take it!" ~ 85%
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️






 

August 11, 2020

Such a Fun Age


Lost in rhythm. ~ pg. 209

It is the midst of a family crisis one late evening. White blogger, Alix Chamberlain, calls her black babysitter, Emira, for a favor. Take Briar the toddler to the local market for a quick distraction while things get settled at home. Things go left when the security guard accuses Emira of kidnapping Briar. One phone call and it can all be straightened out. But Alix's efforts to right the situation turn out to be selfish, rather than good intentions.

Such a Fun Age was everywhere! I saw the cover online, in the public library back when they were still open for browsing, featured in Reese Witherspoon's popular book club and as a recommendation in my email inbox. Thank goodness for a good relationship with my public library because I had a copy reserved soon as it hit shelves. Was it worth the hoopla? Oh, yes!

Let me guess. Were you waiting on my review before deciding to read it yourself? Awww, you're too kind. Go ahead...Such a Fun Age has my stamp of recommendation (along with the 130,000+ reviews). This novel could not have come at a better time when we are in the midst of "Karen Culture" and the bullshit that black women have to deal with every day of our lives. 

I hope that Such a Fun Age continues to spark conversation of what the other side may experience in such situations. At the least, readers should be left asking, "What would I do if I were Alix? How would I react if I were in Emira's shoes?" I challenge you to also examine your own boss-employee dynamic. Let's chat more after you're done reading this well written debut novel!

Title: Such a Fun Age
Author: Kiley Reid
Published: December 2019
Pages: 307
Edition: Hardcover
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

 

August 9, 2020

Series Sunday: Betty and Veronica

(The Leading Ladies of Riverdale) 


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 Betty and Veronica: The Leading Ladies of Riverdale, from the famous Archie Comics. These women have been around for over 80 years. What we thought we knew, is only the surface. This new release delves into Archie's girlfriends from their introductory archetypes in the early 1940s to their relevant characteristics of today. They have come a mighty long way!

"Betty pined for Archie while Archie pined for Veronica, and that was the full extent of their roles." ~ 11%

Chickadee put me on to Archie Comics when I was wee little. I have always loved Betty and Veronica's relationship—be it rivals or besties. I thought I knew all there is to know about them. Welp, this new release by Tim Hanley proved otherwise. There is complexity behind these two iconic characters. The storylines may revamp with social change but the core of these women stay the same. With full color art within essays, the adventures of Betty and Veronica are detailed along with backstory and motivation behind their journey over decades.

"No matter when you first encountered the duo, certain aspects were constant. Betty Cooper has always been a blonde. Veronica Lodge has always been a brunette. Betty was the kindhearted girl next door from her very first appearance. Veronica was the snobbish rich girl. Betty was devoted to her redheaded neighbor. Veronica was intrigued by the boy, yet fickle." ~ 1%

Does this not accurately describe Betty and Veronica? You have to read this book to learn more about why these women carried these roles. The fan in me is pleased with Betty and Veronica! If you are an old fan of the leading ladies of Riverdale or you just flip through the latest double digest while waiting in the grocery store checkout, this new in-depth book will be an addition to your collection. Pick it up!

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: Tim Hanley
Published: July 2020
Pages: 240
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

 

August 7, 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 had my recurring dream last night."

~ Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

 

August 4, 2020

Luster


"We told each other things so awful that by necessity we adopted the posture of speaking in jest, though we had gone through the trouble to create a language, and the effort of this alone betrayed our seriousness." ~ 36%

I was hoping after sitting on my review, pondering how to best describe what I read within these 200+ galley pages, that the words would just flow. Hmmm, not so. I finished reading Luster three (3) whole months ago and still can't tell you what I read. Not because the story was flighty or not interesting. Not because I breezed through or have a shitty memory. I just don't want to spoil you, bookhearts!

"I can be a beach read, I can get rid of all these clauses, please, I'll just revise." ~ 5%

Edie is like most young black women in their 20s: stumbling through life with a plan. She has an apartment, an admin job and pursuing her passion as an artist. Her sexual choices are a bit inappropriate but endless, until she meets Eric. At first glance, Eric seems ideal on paper. A digital archivist, a home in New Jersey and an interest in Edie. But he's married with a daughter. 

Plot twist! Eric's wife has agreed to an open marriage. How perfect now that Edie finds herself unemployed, becoming friends with the Mrs., and being a positive role model to young Akila. She stakes claim in their house! Can you just imagine where this novel is going? Definitely not your typical romance. It is sharp, comic and contemporary. What an addictive read!

Happy Pub Day, Raven Leilani! Luster is now available.

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: Luster
Author: Raven Leilani
Published: August 2020
Pages: 240
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

 

August 2, 2020

Series Sunday: Murder with Honey Ham Biscuits

(Mahalia Watkins Soul Food Mystery #4) 


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 Honey Ham Biscuits, the fourth book in the Mahalia Watkins Soul Food mystery series by A.L. Herbert. Everyone in Maryland knows Mahalia Watkins is known for homemade southern food. Her cooking skills are to be admired. Hence, why she is invited to serve as a guest judge on a cooking competition show to be aired on national TV. Throw in a longtime restaurant competitor, a crass mogul, shady production/film crew and cutthroat finalists. A whole slew of suspects when the frontrunner is found dead. Of course, Halia sorts through clues to identify the murderer. 

"Just throw in a 'Girl!' every now and then...or a 'oh no he di'int.'" ~ 15%

I was on the fence about whether to continue reading this series. Certainly not because of the content. The storylines are anything but stale. However, I have a strong side-eye upon discovering the author is a Latino male writing a series featuring a black female. Suddenly the loud wig-wearing relative, soul food references and dialogue seemed stereotypical. The characters' names, Halia and Wavonne, were a little too cultural. The author not doing personal appearances and keeping his identity somewhat hidden seemed more misleading. Is this practice of tapping into a new market acceptable? But damn, are these stories good! So I chose to stick with the Mahalia Watkins Soul Food mystery series and was granted an advance readers copy.

"I don't think so, but it wasn't that long ago that someone was stabbed to death over a Popeye's chicken sandwich, so people have certainly killed for less." ~ 69%

Like most cozy mysteries, Murder with Honey Ham Biscuits is full of laughs, mouthwatering recipes and outlandish antics. Per usual, Wavonne still sees her way into conversation that is none of her business. Mahalia is still bossy, or as she prefers to be called, a strong leader and helluva amateur sleuth. My only con is how long it took for the murder to occur (at 53%). The opportunity was there but just didn't happen during the first half of the book. As a result, the murder solving was a bit rushed.

Just read it, bookhearts. All author issues aside, the mystery was revealed with twists and the main characters are still lovable. If you are new to the series, check out my previous reviews. If you are hesitant in continuing to read about Halia and 'nem, then let me nudge you towards picking this book up, brewing a pitcher of sweet tea and settling in for a good read.

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: A.L. Herbert
Published: July 2020
Pages: 272
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€