December 30, 2021

My Year in Books

2021 Goodreads Challenge
: Read 102 of 81 books (126% to goal)

2021 Page Count Challenge: Read 27,972 of 21,000 pages (133% to goal)

2021 Average Book Length: 274 pages (shortest book 20 pages ~ largest book 816 pages)

2021 Average Book Rating: 3.7 out of 5 

Amount Saved from Using Public #Lieberry: $356.86

Perpetual Jack Reacher Challenge: Read 3 in series ~ #25, #26 and Rules 

Perpetual Kinsey Millhone Challenge: Read 2 in series ~ V #22 and W #23 

Keeping Up with Patterson Challenge: Read 1 in each series ~ Alex Cross #29, Women's Murder Club #21 and Michael Bennett #13

Lit to TV/Movie ReviewMonster and Passing

Lit Tidbits: Click here for all Pithy Picks in 2021.

First Lines Friday: Click here for all FLF posts in 2021.

Short Story Saturday: Click here for SSS premiere post.

Series Sunday: Click here for all SS posts in 2021.

So Many Books, So Much Mischief Managed! Merry Blessings & Happy 2022, Bookhearts❣️

December 29, 2021

My Year in Blogmoir

Life of a Migraineur
01.19.2021 Deal With It
07.14.2021 NOT good 4 u
07.22.2021 The 4 Phases 

04.20.2021 Words Matter
04.21.2021 MasterClass Chick
12.16.2021 My Little Love 

Many Merry Blessings & Very Happy New Year❣️


December 28, 2021

Top 10 + 2 Fiction of 2021

1. The Mixtape by Brittainy Cherry (multicultural romance)

2. Unthinkable by Brad Parks (thriller)

3. The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave (mystery)

4. The Perfect Marriage by Jeneva Rose (mystery)

5. While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams (political thriller)

6. Rare Danger by Beverly Jenkins (romantic suspense)

7. Stay Close by Harlan Coben (mystery)

8. The President's Daughter by James Patterson and Bill Clinton (thriller)

9Off the Record by Camryn Garrett (young adult)

10. Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon (young adult)

10 + 1. Paper Doll Lina by Robyn Lucas (chick lit)

10 + 2. The Girl at the Back of the Bus by Suzette D. Harrison (historical)

December 26, 2021

Top 5 Series of 2021

1. Win (Windsor Horne Lockwood III #1) by Harlan Coben

2. Wild Rain (Women Who Dare #2) by Beverly Jenkins

3. Fear No Evil (Alex Cross #29) by James Patterson

4. Under Color of Law (Trevor Finnegan #1) by Aaron Philip Clark

5. The Sentinel (Jack Reacher #25) by Lee and Andrew Child

December 24, 2021

Top 10 First Lines of 2021

1. "We are the earth, the land. The tongue that speaks and trips on the names of the dead as it dares to tell these stories of a woman's line. Her people and her dirt, her trees, her water." ~ The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by HonorΓ©e Fanonne Jeffers

2. "When gods became bored in heaven they walked among mortals." ~ The Son of Mr. Suleman by Eric Jerome Dickey

3. "To Black kids everywhere: your stories, your joy, your love, and your lives matter. You are a light in the dark." ~ Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk & Nicola Yoon

4. "I saw my mother raise a man from the dead." ~ Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge

5. "You probably just picked up this book thinking, What the shit is this all about?" ~ Broken (in the best possible way) by Jenny Lawson

6. "When I came to, breaching that little-understood divide between the murky depths of insentience and the bright conscious world, the first thing I became aware of was my tongue." ~ Unthinkable by Brad Parks

7. "You see it all the time on television. There's a knock at the front door. And, on the other side, someone is waiting to tell you the news that changes everything." ~ The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

8. "He put his foot in those greens." ~ Body and Soul Food by Abby Collette

9. "When people say 'terminal', I think of the airport." ~ The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin

10. "The barbershop was strangely quiet. Only the dull buzz of clippers shearing soft scalps." ~ Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson

December 22, 2021

Literary Merry Marie Wishes You...

Be Well. Stay Safe. Many Merry Blessings & Very Happy New Year❣️

Come back here for my Top First Lines, Nonfiction, Fiction, Series and Blogmoir of 2021.  

December 21, 2021

DNF & RBWT of 2021

Bookhearts, you are familiar with my 50-Page RuleThe purpose of this annual DNF (did not finish) and RBWT (right book wrong time) post is to share my reason(s) in an effort to help books find its intended audience. May these books find a new home where they will be finished and enjoyed.
  1. A Good Day for Chardonnay by Darynda Jones ~ Two attempts and I'm out this series.
  2. A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins ~ Lost. What is even happening?!
  3. Bed Stuy by Jerry McGill ~ Too blah to continue.
  4. Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit by Colby Cedar Smith ~ Disjointed and disappointing.
  5. Her Name is Knight by Yasmin Angoe ~ A wordy highly-trained assassin with no action.
  6. Home is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo ~ Fleeting transitions were hard to follow.
  7. In Every Mirror She's Black by Lola Akinmade Γ…kerstrΓΆm ~ Multiple POVs seem out of order.
  8. Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge ~ Coming-of-age too slowly.
  9. Single Black Female by Tracy Brown ~ Now I remember why I stopped reading this genre.
  10. Somebody's Daughter by Ashley C. Ford ~ Better as audiobook maybe.
  11. State of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton ~ Maybe negative reviews aren't so skewed.
  12. Summer on the Bluffs by Sunny Hostin ~ I'mma have to try again in a summer setting.
  13. Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan ~ Not exactly what I thought.
  14. The Stranger in the Lifeboat by Mitch Albom ~ "thick dark matted hair and blue eyes" Nope.
  15. They Can't Take Your Name by Robert Justice ~ Not connecting with story or character.
  16. Your Corner Dark by Desmond Hall ~ Distracting dialect.

December 19, 2021

Series Sunday: W is for Wasted

(Kinsey Millhone #23) 

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 W is for Wasted, the 23rd book in the Kinsey Millhone series by Sue Grafton. Another local PI found gunned down in what appears to be a robbery gone bad. Six weeks later, a homeless man is found dead apparently from natural causes on the beach. In his pocket is Kinsey's name and number. Who is John Doe? Are these two deaths related?

"Not every life turns out." ~ pg. 52 

Finally in book #23 readers find out more about Kinsey's personal life and family. I have been waiting for this! As I look over my ratings of the other books in series, I realize that I prefer the books that focus on a mystery directly involving Kinsey. Grafton has carefully guarded details of the main character—which is so odd for a series—so the smallest drop of knowledge/history pulls me in.

Thank goodness this was a good read! I could only muster one heart ratings for the last two books in series. But W was on point. In fact, I read all 480+ pages in two days during a quiet weekend. That is how interesting the story turned out to be. Once I turned the last page, it hit me. There are only two more books and the Kinsey Millhone series is finished. W, X, Y and EEK!

Author: Sue Grafton
Published: September 2013
Pages: 484
Edition: Hardcover
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

December 18, 2021

Short Story Saturday *Premiere*


I am not a fan of short stories whether solo, in-between a series or a collection. However, sometimes I will indulge if the author is familiar or if it is highly recommended from a Bookheart. 

In an effort to broaden my reading horizons, I figured this would be a good addition to  More authors are writing holiday shorts and Amazon Original Stories have awesome collections that are easily read in 45 minutes or less.

In this new blog meme, on second Saturdays of the month, I will review short stories by well known, local and debut authors. Please be aware that Short Story Saturdays will not happen often so enjoy when it posts. All feedback, comments and recommendations will be appreciated.

Let's start now with two reviews and more coming soon in 2022!

Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: November 2021
Pithy Review: An oh-so-cute and relevant holiday read that perfectly captures the differences between Christmas 2020 and 2021. Social distancing is easy for Reagan. She prefers staying home and safe from COVID but doesn't want her grandfather to spend the holidays alone too. With Jell-O salad in tow, she runs into the boy next door now all grown up. In a world where six feet is close enough, how close can they really get? 
Quote"The pandemic had changed her. She'd gotten a lot pickier about who she let get this close." ~ pg. 37
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Off Season
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Published: October 2021
Pithy Review: Will you do anything to make it as a successful novelist? Sarah Vernon will. For the last 20 years, her books have never sold over 5,000 copies and she's never made enough money to make writing a full-time dream job. Enter the literary agent, Will Presser, that is legendary for making careers. But at what cost? Note to self: read the fine print! Short story with a big lesson told out of her normal comfort zone. Well done, Weiner! 
Quote"  ." ~ pg. 
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

December 17, 2021

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.

"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you'd expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn't hold with such nonsense."

~ Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling πŸ‘“
Yes, I am reading for the FIRST time!

December 16, 2021

My Little Love

Happy Conception Day to Me!

For each sperm that reaches the egg, there are millions that do not fertilize. In that 45 minutes to 12 hours, a blessing happens. Approximately on this day 40 years ago, I was conceived in love. I am meant to be here. I am proof of magic. I am that blessing. Love you much a million percent, My Homie & Chickadee ♠️♥️


December 15, 2021

The Last House on the Street

"I wish we had found us a different place to build our home." ~ pg. 182

The Last House on the Street sounds like an ominous title, right? Well the story lives up to it. There is a new housing development in Round Hill, North Carolina. It plans to be home to Kayla Carter and her four-year-old daughter but unfortunately, her husband died in an accident while building their dream home there. One stranger tells her not to move in while a neighbor named Ellie is more welcoming. Both seem to have some kind of connection to the area that goes back almost 50 years.

I avoid novels told in dual time periods/multiple POVs; however, Diane Chamberlain is a consistent 4-or-5 heart rating so I trust and read everything new of hers the moment it is available. The Last House on the Street being no exception. Then I read her author's note on Goodreads which described her inspiration behind writing the story and passion for civil rights, voting rights for people of color and the SCOPE (Summer Community Organization and Political Education) program. Fiction based on reality? Count me all in! So I made a cup of peach tranquility tea and settled in for two (2) full days of reading.

"It shouldn't be an 'us versus them' thing." ~ pg. 139

The Last House on the Street is two completely different stories with a couple links. Because I am easily confused by dual time periods, I read this book in a way that is not traditional or intended. The chapters alternate narration between Kayla in 2010 and Ellie in 1965. So I read all of Kayla's chapters first then went back to read all of Ellie's chapters in sequence. Because of my reading style, it made it all the more apparent how different the storylines were. Kayla's is very mysterious and modern. Ellie's is heartbreaking with a focus on social injustice. 

I don't know how the author managed to interweave this novel with such perfection but she did the damn thing! I stayed up late turning the pages of Ellie's story set in summer 1965 as a freedom fighter with elements of racism, voting rights and forbidden friendships. I even shed a tear, y'all. Then how it connected to Kayla's life 45 years later was an ending I did not expect. It could have been two separate novels but somehow it worked as one powerful tangled tale! The Last House on the Street is so well written that it will stick with me for a long while. Highly recommended the minute it hits bookshelves!

Happy Early Pub Day, Diane Chamberlain! The Last House on the Street will be available Tuesday, January 11, 2022.

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 Last House on the Street
Author: Diane Chamberlain
Published: January 2022
Pages: 337
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

December 14, 2021

You Don't Know Us Negroes and Other Essays

"Go hard or go home. Instead of coloring up coconut grease in the kitchen, go buy a cow and treat the public to some butter." ~ 27%

I am honored, y'all. So very honored to read an advance copy of this collection of essays by one of the best essayists of our lifetime, Zora Neale Hurston. This anthology spans over 35 years of her work. It includes essays, criticisms and articles that give us a look into her world and time.

Among my favorites are essays about High John de Conquer, the Clotilda, shouting during sermons, our contribution to language, the customary three days for seeking a vision and how whites don't know us negroes other than what is seen on our shows. I took my time reading this book, frequently saying "Preach, Zora!" and nodding my head in strong agreement.

"Biddy, biddy, bend, my story is end." ~ 2%

Thank you to all those that make it possible for fans to read the last prose Zora Neale Hurston wrote. For allowing her words into print for our consumption. Even if you've read all of her published work, it's just something different about it organized into this one collection. Need I say more?

Happy Early Pub Day! You Don't Know Us Negroes and Other Essays will be available Tuesday, January 4, 2022.

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: You Don't Know Us Negroes and Other Essays
Author: Zora Neale Hurston
Published: January 2022
Pages: 412
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

December 12, 2021

Series Sunday: V is for Vengeance

(Kinsey Millhone #22) 

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 V is for Vengeance, the 22nd book in the Kinsey Millhone series by Sue Grafton. A spoiled kid deep in gambling debt. A woman found dead from presumably jumping off a bridge. A shoplifting ring working for the Mob. A dirty cop. A wandering husband. A powerful business. A sinister gangster. And finally, a widower desperate for answers...and this is where our Private Investigator Kinsey Millhone comes into play for her services. Y' is a lot!

"I'd like to say I'm a big fan of forgiveness as long as I'm given the opportunity to get even first." ~ pg. 35

Listen. I was not kidding when I read U is for Undertow earlier this year that I was not excited about picking up the next book in this series. I rated the previous book one lone heart too. Le sigh. It was too much going on to keep track. The writing was all over the place. The mystery had no direction whatsoever. 

Had Grafton given up on the series at this point? It reads as if she knew the end was near so purposely filled 400+ pages with a bunch of ideas that did not flow. It was a spiderweb of jibberish. Obviously I am too far into the series to give up (#22) but yeah, it is time to wrap up Kinsey Millhone. Only a couple more letters left in the alphabet!

Author: Sue Grafton
Published: November 2011
Pages: 437
Edition: Hardcover
Rating: πŸ–€

December 10, 2021

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.

"Teaching is truly a 'servanthood' profession if there ever was one."

~ Pouring from a Cracked and Leaking Cup: One Teacher's Spiritual Journey to Wellness by Jacqueline Dunlap 

December 9, 2021

Pouring from a Cracked and Leaking Cup

"No one better understands or cares about the needs of a teacher like another teacher." ~ pg. 13 

Jacqueline Dunlap, retired teacher of 25 years of experience, shares her testimony in Pouring from a Cracked and Leaking Cup. She brings awareness to the physical, mental and emotional wellness of teachers in a way that no other teacher has done. She knows firsthand how overwhelming teaching can be and how best to navigate its demands. Through meaningful chapters, supporting scriptures and practical strategies, Dunlap discusses her own spiritual journey to wellness and words of encouragement.

Readers will appreciate Dunlap's transparency. She shares personal and professional moments as well as select journal entries, giving us a glimpse of her career and thoughts over the years. Each insightful chapter ends with "Food for Thought" and "Reflection" sections (with note space in paperback edition) so that readers can begin their own journey. Have a pen, highlighter, notebook and Bible ready!

I recommend Pouring from a Cracked and Leaking Cup for all educators and professionals. With this debut, the author addresses the trials and tribulations of a "new" teacher up to the present age of teaching during the pandemic. This book will not only let educators know you aren't alone but also help other professionals. I have already started to implement tools to help prevent burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance. This is more than a book. It is more than one teacher's experience. It is a must-have resource!

Happy Pub Day, Jackie Dunlap! Pouring from a Cracked and Leaking Cup is now available. Click here to download the Kindle version and start reading now on your device. Physical autographed copies are also available. Please note all profits from the first 500 books sold will be donated to Teachers Supporting Teachers Everywhere, Inc., a nonprofit organization focused on encouraging, supporting and advocating for teacher wellness. 

*hint hint* A great Christmas/New Year gift for the special teachers in your life.

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

Title: Pouring from a Cracked and Leaking Cup: One Teacher's Spiritual Journey to Wellness
Author: Jacqueline Dunlap
Published: December 2021
Pages: 73
Edition: Paperback & eBook
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

December 8, 2021

Lit Tidbits: Pithy Picks VIII

Hold on, Bookhearts! I am not quite done with book reviews for the year just yet. Below are pithy reviews featuring four (4) fiction and four (4) nonfiction books that you'll want to add to your TBR.

πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

Title: The Last Thing He Told Me
AuthorLaura Dave
Published: May 2021
Pithy Review: I canceled plans to finish this page-turner w/o interruption. It deserves all awards, book club noms and 200,000+ ratings. "Protect her." is the note Owen has delivered to his wife before he disappears. It refers to his 16-year-old daughter. While discovering the truth, they realize the past isn't real but the future is promising. We all have stories to tell; Laura Dave told an excellent one! 
Quote"We forget all sorts of things that no one helps us remember." ~ pg. 158
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Survival of the Thickest
AuthorMichelle Buteau
Published: December 2020 
Pithy Review: One time for the age appropriate pop culture references! Stand-up comedian, star of First Wives Club and The Circle host writes hilarious essays full of her unapologetic frankness about her road to success. Her personality jumps through the memoir pages. This thick Jersey girl has a heck of a background story that makes me root for her even louder! 
Quote"Traveling really is the best education for every bitch." ~ pg. 189
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Off the Record
AuthorCamryn Garrett
Published: May 2021
Pithy Review: #MeToo movement in fictional literary form! A teen journalist wins a contest to write a celebrity profile for a magazine. Once the multi-city tour kicks off, she uncovers an industry secret. One woman's account leads to another and this novel becomes one of my top reads of the year. The pacing is perfect!
Quote"The thing about thoughts is they don't take as long as saying sentences out loud." ~ pg. 206
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: You Are Your Best Thing
EditorsTarana Burke and Dr. BrenΓ© Brown
Published: April 2021
Pithy Review: This should have stayed a text between two friends. The Black founder of the Me Too movement and a white researcher/writer work together on a book about "the Black experience with vulnerability and shame resilience." Does this sound like a perfect pair for such a topic? Overall it is not recommendable.
Quote"The thing about thoughts is they don't take as long as saying sentences out loud." ~ pg. 206
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️

Title: While Justice Sleeps
AuthorStacey Abrams
Published: May 2021
Pithy Review: Why didn't anyone clue me into the fiction writing of THEE Stacey Abrams?! This is masterful writing of a political suspense thriller. Her professional knowledge translates through the story. I appreciated the sophisticated characters and dialogue that was appropriate but not too much jargon. The perfect novel to snuggle inside and escape into the halls of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Quote"Chess works great for cryptic clues." ~ pg. 267
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Sorrow to Shero: Pain, Power, and Peace
AuthorDr. Jeannita Bussle
Published: July 2020
Pithy Review: Bates Academy alumna gives an honest testimony of trauma, domestic violence, widowhood and the process of healing. She provides factual info on the effects of abuse and importance of mental health. Her transparency will encourage women to break the cycle and become a Shero too.  
Quote"How was it possible that I walked under water and didn't get wet?" ~ 85%
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Mixtape
AuthorBrittainy Cherry
Published: July 2021
Pithy Review: The best Prime First Read of 2021! Raising a daughter alone is both pleasure and pain for Emery. Oliver drinks his grief away and misses his twin brother madly. They share their paths of loss while remembering the key to breathing is music. Romance + Healing x Hope ÷ Music = a 5-star novel!
Quote"Every person in the world has a mixtape of sorts, a collection of tracks that defines their lives." ~ 47%
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

AuthorJill Scott 
Published: June 2015
Pithy Review: Jilly from Philly has a way with words and lyrics. Her poetry is bee-you-tee-ful. This collection is her first ever poetry. It is honest, erotic, soulful and comforting. Fans of her lyrics will absolutely love this! Be prepared to be in your feels and occupied for hours while finishing this sensual read. By the way, Jill Scott, I am still waiting on the next collection of your poetry; songs are simply not enough.
Quote"I don't even think of you now." ~ pg. 4
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️