May 10, 2022

Live Read Alert is taking a late spring break. But I am still active in these #innanet streets. 

Visit Literary Marie's Live Read❣️ for updates and reactions as I read Will by Will Smith followed by James Patterson by James Patterson.

May 8, 2022

Short Story Sunday: Keri on the Loose

(Southern Belle Insults #5)

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

"There was no trace of that bashfulness she used to have in that face now!" ~ 41%

Janet is back with another life-altering wig switch. And now she's daring enough to wear leather leggings, quits her job and full advances on her barista crush. Keri on the Loose is my least favorite of the series. Good thing it was less than 30 minutes to read/listen. I actually switched to audiobook halfway through to see if it would grab my interest more. But nope, just as ridiculously boring.

I am moving on to the next in series. Might as well finish! You can easily read or listen to these all at once too. 
Authors: Keke Palmer with Jasmine Guillory 
Published: November 2021
Pages: 29
Edition: eBook
Series: Southern Belle Insults
Genre: Humor Fiction
Rating: 🖤 

May 6, 2022

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.

"This morning, I got up at quarter to six. Late for me. I made strong coffee and oatmeal with a sprinkle of brown sugar and a touch of cream. I leafed through the New York Times, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal. Then I took a deep breath and started this ego-biography that you're reading."

~ James Patterson by James Patterson: The Stories of My Life *preview*

May 4, 2022

Say Her Name

"He wore his blackness with the softness of a loving embrace, but also with the tough texture of polished armour ready to deflect the unfairness of life." ~ pg. 11

Author pairs are tricky. Everyone cannot pull it off successfully. There is almost always an author with a prominent voice and the shift in storytelling is obvious. However, Mitchell and Carter write wonderfully together in this new thriller titled Say Her Name.

Eva is a biracial woman, adopted daughter of Cherry and Carlton "Sugar" McNeil. They are the only parents she's known, wanted or needed since the formal adoption when she was eight years old. The story begins with the double blow of Cherry's death and Eva's own suspension from work. With time on her hands and against Sugar's advice, Eva joins a DNA database. It is time to discover who she was before she was theirs.

"But that's the thing with families. Seamless simply hides all the cracks." ~ pg. 161

From the moment Eva gets a positive hit on her DNA to the very last page, Say Her Name moves at a quick thrilling pace with twists. The authors take readers through a dark puzzle, the merciless underside of society and the unfortunate truth of black women disappearing without a word. There are no search parties. There are no names made public. There are no media pleas for their return.

It is enough to make you angry. Yet to read about it in a well-told fiction novel was a push in the right direction. I hope it helps bring awareness to this societal issue, the safety of black women and human trafficking. 

But far as the book goes, my feelings have changed. My immediate reaction upon finishing the book was to rate it 5🖤. I have since changed it to 4🖤 the more I thought about details forgotten later in the book, silly actions of the main character and some unrealistic parts of the mystery. Just to be clear—this new novel is still a good read! I will try more from this bestselling author duo even though Say Her Name wasn't as perfect as I originally thought.

Title: Say Her Name
Author: Dreda Say Mitchell & Ryan Carter
Published: April 2022
Pages: 308
Edition: eBook
Genre: Thriller
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 

May 3, 2022

If He Had Been with Me

"I love him in a way I cannot define, as if my love were an organ within my body that I could not live without yet could not pick out of an anatomy book." ~ pg. 74

Finn and Autumn were meant to be together. Joined at the hip since their mothers (best friends) gave birth. They live right next door and attend the same schools. But something happens to shift their dynamic. Perhaps they've just grown apart and hang in different circles; Finn being the most popular guy in school while Autumn hangs with the misfits. Yet she imagines them being together sometimes.

Since the first page we know how the story ends. It was raining. Finn was driving down a slick road while arguing with his girlfriend Sylvie. Normally people think it's not important what they were arguing about. But Autumn knows because she was the cause and there's another story beyond the facts.

"It was the sort of happiness that fools you into thinking that there is still so much more, maybe even enough to laugh forever." ~ pg. 22

I got a free 4-month subscription to Kindle Unlimited when I upgraded my Kindle PaperWhite. I randomly scrolled through books and added a bunch to my library. This one caught my eye because of the title and ominous cover. Well my free subscription is expiring soon so I went through all of my downloads. I returned a lot and kept others to devour in a personal read-a-thon. There was something about If He Had Been with Me that whispered, "Keep me! Read me now!"

"I want to savor this wonder, this happening of loving a book and reading it for the first time, because the first time is always the best, and I will never read this book for the first time ever again." ~ pg. 141

So here I am trying to find the right words to give this novel the review it deserves. The best I can come up with is the quote above from the book itself. The author clearly had readers in mind when she wrote these lines. Because I just finished reading If He Had Been with Me and am frozen in place. I have been sitting in the same spot since I read the last paragraph. I will not forget this story. I felt the printed words. I am in disbelief. I am heartbroken. I am a believer that sad things can be beautiful.

Title: If He Had Been with Me
Author: Laura Nowlin
Published: April 2013
Pages: 333
Edition: eBook
Genre: YA Romance
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 

May 1, 2022

Series Sunday: By the Book

(Meant to Be #2) 

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.

"This was like those fairy tales about girls held captive by monsters. Except, opposite." ~ 19%

My Series Sunday pick is By the Book, the second book in the Meant to Be series by Jasmine Guillory. This series features contemporary takes on classic Disney princesses. Isabelle started off so optimistic, beginning her career in publishing right out of college. Fast forward a few years and she's now 25 years old, still living at home, still an editorial assistant with no promotion in sight and the only Black employee at the publishing house. You know the story—overworked and underpaid.

In an effort to be seen as valuable, Isabelle jokingly agrees to babysit a high-profile author who has failed to deliver his long-awaited manuscript. Beau Towers welcomes Isabelle into his home with a scowl and jaded attitude. But through her encouraging pep talks, his story begins to spill onto the page as well as his feelings. Is it meant to be?

"You can fix bad writing, you can't fix a blank page." ~ 33%

A book about writing a book. Gotta love it! I related to the main character within the first two chapters. She started her career strong and immediately after college graduation (✔️). She was the happy-go-lucky employee with ambitious dreams (✔️). Within a few years, she looked up and realized she was the only Black employee (✔️). How exhausting! But for a bit of excitement, she took on a challenge at work and hoped for a happy ending—or at least a bigger paycheck (✔️).

How can you not love a reimagined fairy tale for the new generation? Meant to Be #2 is a love story where the romance happens slowly but we see it coming way before the couple does. By the Book gives the lovey-dovey feeling with a classic twist. I recommend this super cute novel by bestselling author Jasmine Guillory. 

As the author says, By the Book is dedicated to "all the Black girls who loved books and wanted to be princesses." Add to your TBR with the friendly reminder to read between the lines. Pun intended.

Happy Early Pub Day, Jasmine Guillory! By the Book will be available Tuesday, May 3.

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: Jasmine Guillory
Published: May 2022
Pages: 320
Edition: Galley
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤