September 21, 2022

Fall Blog Break

I don't know
who needs 
to read this,
but it's
okay to
take a 
break.

Rest now
so you 
won't
quit later.

Let summer
turn to fall.

For fall is 
proof that
change is 
beautiful.

September 20, 2022

Lit Tidbits: Pithy Picks IX


Hey, Bookhearts! Pithy Picks are becoming my favorite bookish meme! Sometimes books don't need a full review to express my recommendation or unpopular opinion. I hope you find a few books of interest below and learn which books to not bother with.

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

Author: Toya Wolfe
Published: June 2022
Pithy Review: It's the summer of 1999. Fe Fe, Precious, Stacia and Tonya live in building 4950 of Robert Taylor Homes on Chicago's South Side, next in line to be torn down. I won't soon forget this so well told coming-of-age story about finding a home in one's self and community. A favorite read of 2022!
Quote"But people jump out the rope on that game and go separate ways." ~ pg. 136
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Title: Long Past Summer
AuthorNouΓ© Kirwan
Published: August 2022
Pithy Review: No longer the meek teen from small town Georgia, Mikaela is now a successful New York lawyer. But when an old photo resurfaces in a lawsuit, she has to face her old best friend and first love. I would not have picked up this book on my own but it was recommended by a relative and glad it was. Started off strong but fell flat and predictable, making it an overall okay read.
Quote"Ovaries before brovaries." ~ pg. 184
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️
Title:
 You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey
AuthorAmber Ruffin & Lacey Lamar
Published: January 2021
Pithy Review: Humor led these sisters to write essays about everyday experiences of racism. From strangers putting their whole hand in hair to figuring out why Karens Karen. It is relatable yet amusing. The stories are a cross between "Happened to me too" and "You can't make this racist shit up." 
Quote"It's never a Black person's job to make sure these people understand why what they're saying is wrong." ~ pg. 15
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title:
 Uncharted Waters
AuthorSally Hepworth
Published: August 2022
Pithy Review: The Amazon Original Stories are gems, y'all! A getaway vacation turns sinister when an icebreaker game leads to a seductive twist. You can read or listen in one sitting, which is recommended for the punch it packs in less than 50 pages. So well written that I went in search of a full-length novel by the author. Give me more!
Quote"Nothing worthwhile happens in the comfort zone." ~ pg. 5 
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Title:
 The Candid Life of Meena Dave
Author: Namrata Patel
Published: June 2022
Pithy Review: Meena Dave is a photojournalist with no family, no attachments, no permanent address. Until she unexpectedly inherits an apartment. She is forced to settle down in a community with neighbors, meddling aunties and a culture she never thought possible. Make a cup of chai and settle in for this good read.
Quote"I suppose I could start at the beginning, but to what end? That's a fun sentence." ~ pg. 22
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Ugly Love
AuthorColleen Hoover
Published: August 2014
Pithy Review: Love isn't always pretty. We know this. Miles and Tate know this. Yet they make an arrangement anyway. He doesn't want love; she doesn't have time for love. Don't ask about the past; don't expect a future. Then rules are broken and their love gets ugly. I should've known this was no light chick lit. CoHo made me feel all the feels and heartbreak!
Quote"We tell ourselves we've got this...when we don't have it at all." ~ 21%
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

AuthorJen Lancaster
Published: October 2020
Pithy Review: My funny beloved Jen Lancaster's latest memoir talks about so much: Earl Grey tea, anxiety, side hustles, being Matchy McMatcherson and more. All things I relate to! We are indeed one nation under stress. This book is full of wit and advice. I like this new (back-to-memoir) mode with endnotes containing facts and snarky asides. Perfect publishing time too!
Quote"Comedy is an outlet that can build bridges." ~ pg. 230
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

AuthorLucy Score
Published: February 2022
Pithy Review: This may be better as a movie. Picture this: a Christmas wedding. A sexy stranger. A fictional town with gossip. A donated organ. A recipient with predictable actions. Possible love match. Definitely a recipe for Hallmark or Lifetime Movie Network. But just to read? Hmmm, Bookhearts can pass on this novella.
Quote"What could Hope Falls give that Chicago couldn't?" ~ 79%
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️

Title: Reminders of Him
AuthorColleen Hoover
Published: January 2022
Pithy Review: CoHo...girl...respectfully, why the fuck do you keep writing these books that tear my heart to shreds, piece it back together and send me on my merry way until the next release? This fictional story of redemption was heartbreakingly tender. It left me wondering how long can a person be punished for mistakes? And is everyone worthy of forgiveness and love?
Quote"People need people." ~ 37%
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

AuthorJames Patterson and J.D. Barker
Published: April 2022
Pithy Review: Why, oh why, did you co-sign this dud, JP? Or did you not even bother reading the first draft to see if it followed your outline? Because this one clearly slipped through the cracks. Not Patterson's style at all! Halfway through, I went on skim mode. What should have been a thriller of a brilliant escape artist that destroys the men she loves turned out to be blah.
Quote"You sure you heard screaming?" ~ I don't even remember which page.
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️

Title: Recitatif 
AuthorToni Morrison
Published: February 2022 (first published 1983)
Pithy Review: In ToMo's only short story, two women cross paths. The twist is their races are not revealed. I read this classic carefully twice. Discussed with Chickadee and Bookhearts. We all came up with something different. A brilliant literary demonstration of race, stereotypes and relationships that hold relevant in today's world. Now that's how you write a timeless story and spark debate! 
Quote"Things are not right." ~ pg. 35 
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


September 18, 2022

Series Sunday: Blue Like Me

(Trevor Finnegan #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.

"People check out." ~ 57%

My Series Sunday pick is Blue Like Me, the second book in the Trevor Finnegan series by Aaron Philip Clark. It's been almost a year but I remember the fictional man of color I fell in like with named Finn. The intellectual rookie cop is now former detective/PI. His new occupation is catching LAPD's worst in the act. While on surveillance, he witnesses a presumed dirty cop be killed and his ex-partner wounded by gunshots. Then Finn's Uncle is murdered in what seems to be a connection. The investigation just turned deadly!

Oh, that's not all! Finn is also making an effort to spend more quality time with his father, prepare for a 6-month stay in France, domestic issues with girlfriend and become acquainted with a new person in his life. Whew—Finn has a lot going on!

"I'm a black man running around with a gun at a crime scene where the victims are LAPD officers and two bystanders." ~ 15%

Blue Like Me is suspense at its best! I was shocked at the end of almost every long chapter. Jaw dropped or saying aloud, "Whaaaaaat?!" I've read a ton of mystery in my day so plot twists rarely faze me. But Aaron Philip Clark managed to surprise me a couple times within these 250+ pages. At the same time, he fleshed out the main character Finn a little bit more in this second installment, dropping more personality hints and backstory along the way. I just wish it focused more on a certain storyline. 

While Blue Like Me is the second book in the stories and I highly recommend reading Under Color of Law first, the author gives enough context clues for this to be read as a standalone. The Trevor Finnegan series is a winner...periodt!

Happy Early Pub Day, Aaron Philip Clark! Blue Like Me will be available Tuesday, November 8.

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: Aaron Philip Clark
Published: November 2022
Pages: 256
Edition: Galley
Genre: Mystery
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

September 16, 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.

"On Friday, June 12th, I woke up at six o'clock and no wonder; it was my birthday."

~ The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank 

September 14, 2022

Blogmoir: VIRGO'S GROOVE❣️

I'm that girl who cannot stop listening to Beyoncé's seventh studio album. I should have known when she proclaimed 🎡all these songs sound good 'cause I'm on that ho🎡 Who starts off an album like this?!

No other album is played from beginning to end in clubs all around. DJs press play and let it ride for 1 hour, 2 minutes. Then be ready to spin the vinyl when you hear πŸŽ΅I'm in my bag, bag, bag, bag🎡

It makes me move. It makes me dance. It makes me social. It keeps me company. It's a groove. All the things I didn't know I needed. RENAISSANCE dropped when so many of us can relate to these lyrics.

I literally listen to nothing else. I only paused my listening twice. The first time was an attempt to hear other music so I played Calvin Harris' new album. That didn't last long before my fingers involuntarily pressed play and went back to 🎡please, muthafuckas ain't stopping me🎡 The second time I dared to play anything else was guilt-free because I kept it in the Carter household. A new song titled GOD DID was released with a Jay-Z guest verse—arguably his best but that's a whole 'nother blogmoir post. For four (4) whole minutes, HOV DID on a track. I love when he talks πŸ‘πŸΎ super πŸ‘πŸΎ facts πŸ‘πŸΎ

My favorite songs change daily. It depends on which lyrics I wake up to. Not from my alarm but from my head. NO OTHER ALBUM HAS THIS EFFECT on the Bey Hive or the general public. And this is just the beginning; two more acts are going to be released! 

At some point I have to let this album breathe and listen to other music. At least until visuals are out. But for now, I will continue playing the crack-laced RENAISSANCE in heavy rotation, celebrating Virgo season and randomly yelling "UNIQUE" in everyday conversation. 

KU, Classic, Popular and New!


Who just downloaded ten eBooks as if she doesn't have enough to read? Dot Did!

September 13, 2022

What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez


"We plotted." ~ 47%

All is well in the Ramirez household until 13-year-old middle child Ruthy disappeared without a trace after track practice. It left the family scarred. Twelve years later, their mother, Dolores, struggles with mental health, weight gain and diabetes. Older sister Jessica juggles a newborn baby and demanding hospital job. And Nina has returned home after graduating college to medical school rejections and a measly retail job in the mall. 

Then one night, Jessica spots a woman with her missing sister's distinctive red hair and beauty mark on a Bad Girls type reality show going by the name of Ruby. After seeing Ruthy/Ruby on TV, the sisters hatch a plan to drive to Boston where the show is filmed. Dolores and her best friend join the sisters making it a family road trip filled with humor and hard truths, told in alternating narration that brings out each character's personality oh so perfectly. 

"Sometimes the wrong people remember you." ~ 15%

Family dynamics in fiction are always fascinating to read. Especially when the family is going through drama like the Puerto Rican family, Ramirez. Their road trip from Staten Island to Boston is one that will make readers LOL while appreciating the culture and light mystery. 

The best part of the novel wasn't even finding out what happened to Ruthy; it was the relationship between Dolores and her two remaining daughters, Nina and Jessica. Another major theme was self-realization and how you see yourself vs. how others see you. This was obviously the author's intent since the road trip to find Ruthy doesn't start until 80% through the book. It was the better story to tell up to very last sentence! 

"In truth, there was nobody I admired more than my sister." ~ 85%

Very good first impression for a debut novel! What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez is equal parts hilarious and intriguing. It explores the familial bonds between mothers, daughters and sisters. Usually I am not a fan of alternating narration, but Claire JimΓ©nez nails it! This story could not have been told any other way. I recommend for chick lit lovers and book clubs for minority women. Get lost in this well written debut featuring strong Brown women! I'll keep an eye out for more from Claire JimΓ©nez.

Happy Early Pub Day, Claire JimΓ©nez! What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez will be available Tuesday, March 7, 2023.

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: What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez
Author: Claire JimΓ©nez
Published: March 2023
Pages: 240
Edition: Galley
Genre: Chick Lit 
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

September 11, 2022

Series Sunday: No Plan B

(Jack Reacher #27) 


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 No Plan B, the 27th book in the Jack Reacher series by Lee and Andrew Child. One of my favorite grifters, Jack Reacher, arrived in Gerrardsville, Colorado, on a Monday. It is there that two witnesses to the same tragedy give two different accounts. One guy sees a woman throw herself in front of a bus. The other guy, Jack Reacher, sees the woman pushed to her death. Reacher follows the killer on foot, not knowing there is a secret conspiracy with many moving parts.

"It was a question of balance." ~ 48%

There is No Plan B when the threat is Reacher. He is 6'5", 250 lbs. and scruffy. You can't miss him. So why must the bad guys constantly try him? Underestimate him? Square up against him? Maybe the better question is why the author(s) continue putting Reacher in unnecessary situations where he has to fight his way out and drop countless bodies. For why?!

The only reason I did not DNF No Plan B is because I held out hope. I wanted the story to get more believable. More interesting. Different than the previous stop-in-a-small-town-witness-injustice-actively-go-after-bad-guys plot. I may have to stop reading the current releases in the Jack Reacher series and resume reading the earlier books for the character I fell in heavy like with. Because this new sh!t is not it.

Happy Early Pub Day, Lee and Andrew Child! No Plan B will be available Tuesday, October 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.

Title: No Plan B
Author: Lee and Andrew Child
Published: October 2022
Pages: 336
Edition: Galley
Genre: Mystery
Challenge: Perpetual Jack Reacher
Rating: πŸ–€

September 9, 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.

"I'd known Precious forever, Stacia a year, and Tonya for just a minute. We were so different, but everybody loved them some double dutch. Sometimes we made a tight-knit crew; other days we couldn't get along for nothing."

~ Last Summer on State Street by Toya Wolfe

September 7, 2022

We Find Our Way


"black women make the world go round—can make shit stop, too." ~ pg. 83

It has to be a gripping description for me to pick up poetry. I am very picky when it comes to spoken word/verse. Usually I stick with the very few I know: Rumi, Rupi Kaur, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes and Nikki Giovanni. However, a blurb from the author is what piqued my interest: "To describe this book, I wrote from the perspective of the black experience. My experience particularly. It's a book about grief, death, rebirth, ancestors, and spirit."

We Find Our Way is Reyna Biddy's latest and third collection of poetry. Themes include love, sacrifice, healing and hope. In just 162 pages, there is a variety of writing styles. Most poems are short yet thought-provoking while a couple are long and lyrical. I found myself pausing to reflect on certain lines. I see why Reyna Biddy is not only a poet but a self-love enthusiast. 

"soul work on standby"
 ~ pg. 11

Right away I noticed that We Find Our Way follows the trendy structure of all lowercase, no punctuation. Sometimes left margin, sometimes center spaced. Some poems made sense but didn't create the urge to dig deeper into thoughts before moving on to the next unrelated poem. 

Collections are supposed to flow smoothly from one poem to the next. But the formatting made it seem disjointed with the poems losing interpretation along the way. Perhaps the poems could have resonated with my soul more if the transitions were smoother. I can best describe it as papers falling to the floor then picked up in no particular order and stapled together. 

"watch your moods!" ~ pg. 58

Again, I am picky when it comes to poetry so my opinion could be unpopular. The good thing about poetry is that it hits readers differently. We Find Our Way may be worth YOUR reading.

Happy Early Pub Day, Reyna Biddy! We Find Our Way will be available Tuesday, October 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.

Title: We Find Our Way
Author: Reyna Biddy
Published: October 2022
Pages: 162
Edition: Galley
Genre: Poetry
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€

September 6, 2022

Wolf Hustle


"There was darkness that came with this business." ~ 77%

Wolf Hustle: A Black Woman on Wall Street is the true story of Cin FabrΓ©. She learned how to hustle from her immigrant parents. Eventually she saved money to escape poverty in the South Bronx. A tip from an old friend pushed Cin in the direction of VTR Capital, a brokerage firm offshoot of the company where Jordan Belfort, the Wolf of Wall Street, had reigned. 

Cin rose through the ranks and broke the cycle of many Black/Brown people in "The Pit." Through her dedication, grueling hours and hustling spirit, she ascended from cold caller to stockbroker. She became the only Black woman to do so at her firm. Her years spent trading frantically led to a thrilling rich life. 

"Whatever the reason, here I was, the only female in a sea of men." ~ 43%

Times have not changed much. Brokerage firms are still majority white male brokers. Females are few and far between in the business. However, it took damn near half the book to reach the main point. I won't say everything to this point was irrelevant but the title and synopsis led readers to believe this is the story of a Black woman on Wall Street. Yet we don't even reach this point until halfway through this rags-to-riches story.

Cin held nothing back, from not passing a series exam by three measly points to the drugs and alcohol, lavish parties and shopping sprees. Her story is entertaining and at times motivating. I just wish it focused more on the Wall Street part.

Happy Early Pub Day, Cin FabrΓ©! Wolf Hustle will be available Tuesday, September 20.

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: Wolf Hustle
Author: Cin FabrΓ©
Published: September 2022
Pages: 320
Edition: Galley
Genre: Memoir
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

September 4, 2022

Super Series Sunday

(Knockemout #1 ~ Noodle Shop #1 ~ We Were Liars #0 ~ Michael Bennett #14) 


Super Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Binge read installments of a series.
  • Share your review/recommendations below.
  • Include the titles, authors and series names.

My 1st Super Series Sunday pick is Things We Never Got Over, the first book in the Knockemout series by Lucy Score. Bearded bad boy Knox prefers to be alone with his basset hound. He doesn't tolerate drama until a stranded runaway bride named Naomi blows into town to rescue her estranged twin. Tricked by the evil twin, Tina steals Naomi's car and cash, leaving her with an 11-year-old niece Naomi didn't know she had. Not liking drama, Knox helps Naomi so he can return to a peaceful life. I have never heard of this author before browsing through Kindle Unlimited library. It has over 145,000 ratings with an average of 4⭐️ so I downloaded. Best impulse read ever! Almost 600 pages of goodness read in 3 days! I am in love with the characters, the author's writing style and the grown chick lit story. This novel is the literary version of the heart eyes emoji with all the feels it gives readers! 😍

My 2nd Super Series Sunday pick is Death by Dumpling, the first book in the Noodle Shop series by Vivien Chien. Yes, I am reading out of order! This is the beginning of the Ho-Lee Noodle House, where the Chinese food is literally to die for. The restaurant's property manager, Mr. Feng, turns up dead after a delivery of dumplings. Now the whole family restaurant is under suspicion for murder. It is a funny cozy mystery that pairs well with Chinese takeout and a weekend inside.

My 3rd Super Series Sunday pick is Family of Liars, the prequel to We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. We are back to another summer, another generation, more secrets that will haunt for decades to come. Put testosterone, entitlement, cold beer and an addicted heiress together and it's one helluva twisted story that I could not put down. I read nonstop, frantically turning the ePages! This novel proves the ocean is hungry and when it comes to the Sinclair family, they were clearly always liars. 

My 4th Super Series Sunday pick is Shattered, the 14th book in the Detective Michael Bennett series by James Patterson and James O. Born. NYPD homicide investigator Michael Bennett and top FBI abduction specialist Emily Parker have a history. So when she is found strangled, Bennett leaves his new bride and familiar family chaos to find the killer. There was nothing thrilling about this latest book of the series. It was as if the authors had a contractual obligation to fill and just turned in anything. Do better for Bennett!

Author: Lucy Score
Published: January 2022
Pages: 570
Edition: eBook
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

Author: Vivien Chien
Published: March 2018
Pages: 331
Edition: eBook
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€
Author: E. Lockhart
Published: May 2022
Pages: 279
Edition: eBook
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

Title: Shattered
Author: James Patterson and James O. Born
Published: July 2022
Pages: 351
Edition: eBook
Challenge: Keeping Up with Patterson
Rating: πŸ–€ 


September 2, 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.

"If you draw a map of our family history, you might start it off with my dad, young, fat, and handsome, eighteen-year-old Eddie Ramirez, plotting to get with my moms, who was dark-skinned, small and freckled, long black curly hair. Freshly turned seventeen. Her name is Dolores. And you can probably start it off in Brooklyn."

~ What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez by Claire Jimenez