December 31, 2022

My Year in Books

2022 Goodreads Challenge: Read 107 of 100 books (107% to goal)

2022 Page Count Challenge: Read 30,518 of 22,000 pages (139% to goal)

2022 Average Book Length: 285 pages (shortest book 19 pages ~ largest book 576 pages)

2022 Average Book Rating: 3.5 out of 5 

Amount Saved Since Using Public #Lieberry: $5,515.25

Perpetual Jack Reacher Challenge: Read 2 in series ~ #27 and Rules 

Perpetual Kinsey Millhone Challenge: Finished last 2 in series ~ X #24 and Y #25  

Keeping Up with Patterson Challenge: Read 1 in each series ~ Alex Cross #30Women's Murder Club #22 and Michael Bennett #14 



Lit Tidbits: Click here for all Pithy Picks in 2022.

First Lines Friday: Click here for all FLF posts in 2022.

Short Story Sunday: Click here for all SSS posts in 2022.

Series Sunday: Click here for all SS posts in 2022.

So Many Books, So Made More Time❣️

December 27, 2022

Top 10 Fiction of 2022

























2. Recitatif by Toni Morrison

3. One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

4. The 6:20 Man by David Baldacci

5. All the Lonely People by Mike Gayle

6. If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin

7. Never Meant to Meet You by Alli Frank and Asha Youmans

8. What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez by Claire Jimenez

9. Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover

10. Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover  

December 25, 2022

Top 5 Series of 2022


1. Things We Never Got Over (Knockemout #1) by Lucy Score

2. Family of Liars (We Were Liars #2) by E. Lockhart

3. Triple Cross (Alex Cross #30) by James Patterson 

4. By the Book (Meant to Be #2) by Jasmine Guillory 

5. To Catch a Raven (Women Who Dare #3) by Beverly Jenkins

December 24, 2022

DNF & NRN of 2022


Bookhearts, you are familiar with my 50-Page RuleThe purpose of this annual DNF (did not finish) and NRN (not right now) 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. An Honest Lie by Tarryn Fisher ~ Please not another Then & Now when unnecessary.
  2. Chevy in the Hole by Kelsey Ronan ~ Love Detroit mentions but not enough to finish; disjointed.
  3. Embers on the Wind by Lisa Williamson Rosenberg ~ I was here for Underground Railroad but not sΓ©ances, spirits, "high yellow" girls, "midnight black" ancestors and the Obelisk. 
  4. Finding Me by Viola Davis ~ Unpopular opinion that it's disjointed. Will try again someday.
  5. Fly Away by Kristin Hannah ~ Skimmed because in a coma the whole book?!
  6. Half-Blown Rose by Leesa Cross-Smith ~ Beautiful prose but story falls flat and slow-paced.
  7. Happy is on Hiatus by A.C. Arthur ~ Snoozer.
  8. Hester by Laurie Lico Albanese ~ To be a retelling of Scarlet Letter, the focus is on everything and everybody but Nathaniel Hawthorne.
  9. Hide by Tracy Clark ~ Slow motion for meh.
  10. How to Be a Boss B*tch by Christine Quinn ~ The bitch is bitchier in book form.
  11. Jackal by Erin E. Adams ~ Missing Black girls is important but this long roundabout is too slow.
  12. Maame by Jessica George ~ Teetering on woe-is-me thin line. Unexpected content.
  13. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult ~ Fittylem characters.
  14. On Rotation ~ Turned off from language ("ass" overused, "dark-skinned nappy-headed ho"). 
  15. Restore Me by J.L. Seegars ~ Not sure what it is but this ain't it.
  16. The Accidental Pinup by Danielle Jackson ~ Great body positivity message but forced romance.
  17. The Bluebonnet Battle by Carolyn Brown ~ Southern charm is there but overdoing funeral talk.
  18. The Homewreckers by Mary Kay Andrews ~ Serious yawning.
  19. The Three of Us by Ore Agbaje-Williams ~ Where is the punctuation? Impossible to read.
  20. The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth ~ Too slow of a slow burn.
  21. This Might Hurt by Stephanie Wrobel ~ Alternating from past to present with no chapter heading.
  22. Upgrade by Blake Crouch ~ Jargon took me out. (Diffusely metastatic, pyknodyostosis, Paget's...)
  23. Violeta by Isabel Allende ~ History Lesson vs. Historical Fiction; pandemic all over again.
  24. Wahala by Nikki May ~ I've met them all now and nope.
  25. Where Wild Peaches Grow by Cade Bentley ~ Slow as thick syrup.
  26. Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband? ~ Will try again when I have the patience to read heavy dialect.
  27. You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi ~ Struggled to get far as 11%.

December 23, 2022

Top 10 First Lines of 2022


1. "I lost an arm on my last trip home. My left arm. And I lost about a year of my life and much of the comfort and security I had not valued until it was gone." ~ Kindred by Octavia E. Butler 

2. "Sometimes you recognize a tool only after it starts working for you. And sometimes, it turns out, the smallest of tools can help us to sort through the largest of feelings." ~ The Light We Carry by Michelle Obama

3.  "I was the one who found Daddy dead, crammed in the little space where my old bike's training wheels turned rusted." ~ What the Fireflies Knew by Kai Harris

4. "It's like being awakened from a dream, a real-feeling dream where you didn't know you were sleeping. Like being pulled from a thick, muddy river bottom into cold, clear water. Thought last I checked, rivers don't have candles, and this place is full of them. Voices murmur around me: a prayer I've never heard." ~ Embers on the Wind by Lisa Williamson Rosenberg

5. "There's this dream I've been having about my mother that scares the holy night out of me, and each time I wake from it I'm afraid to open my eyes and face the world that awaits, the fractured world that used to make sense, but now seems disjointed—islands of possibility that float by—like a thousand puzzle pieces that just don't fit together anymore." Solo by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess

6. "My granddaddy is the only black man I've ever met who was never broke a day in his life." ~ Rabbit by Patricia "Ms. Pat" Williams

7. "Am I strong enough?" ~ Wahala by Nikki May

8. "A year never passes without me thinking of them." ~ Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

9. "The Book of Psalms is amazing. It helps us know and understand God, it teaches us how to worship Him, it instructs us in wisdom, it encourages us, and it offers practical advice for our everyday life." ~ Daily Devotions from Psalms by Joyce Meyer 

10. "I wasn't sure what to expect when I walked into Cafe Rev, but it sure as hell wasn't a picture of myself behind the register under the cheery headline 'Do Not Serve.'"  ~ Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score

December 22, 2022

The "I Love My Air Fryer" Cooking for One Recipe Book


"Get ready to personalize your menu; create filling, flavorful, and healthy meals; and cook for one. Let's get air frying!" ~ pg. 4

So my problem is that I cook for a family of four and don't eat leftovers. Usually the food sits in my fridge a couple days until someone comes over to either eat it or throw it out. Well I finally bit the bullet and bought a super cool air fryer with fittylem settings that force smaller portions. At the risk of sounding like every other American: I love my air fryer! It is my favorite kitchen appliance now. The Crock Pot is long forgotten and tucked away in a cabinet. I have more counter space and less cleanup. 

I'm ready to add variety to my menu. Even better—I was granted an advance copy of a cookbook to help with my newfound way of cooking for one! The "I Love My Air Fryer" Cooking for One Recipe Book includes 175 easy recipes to whip up a delicious homemade single-serving meal in quick cook time. Y'all...I'm eating balanced meals that take mere minutes to prep and cook with no lingering leftovers. I don't have to stand in front of the stove or preheat the oven or take a trip through the drive-thru. 

Heather Johnson of TheFoodHussy.com provides recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, side dishes, appetizers and dessert! Like any good cookbook, there are pictures included that urged me to visit the grocery store and try new recipes. I will eventually cook most of the 175 meals but for purposes of this review, I made:
  • Home Fries
  • Grilled Pineapple
  • Orange Chicken
  • Roasted Asparagus
  • Stuffed Mini Peppers
  • Sausage and Peppers
  • Grilled Cheese Roll-Ups
  • Crispy Brussels Sprouts
  • Artichoke Hearts with Parmesan 

Cheers to no waste and good food in the new year! Happy Early Pub Day, Heather Johnson! The "I Love My Air Fryer" Cooking for One Recipe Book will be available Tuesday, January 3, 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: The  "I Love My Air Fryer" Cooking for One Recipe Book
Author: Heather Johnson
Published: January 2023
Pages: 225
Edition: Galley
Genre: Cookbook
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

Madam C.J. Walker Builds a Business


"Hold your ear so I can get the edges." ~ pg. 60


Rebel Girls is a global brand dedicated to inspiring girls all over the world. Rebel Girls publishes a collection of illustrated awesomesauce stories of what I call: Women We Should Know. They feature creative trailblazing women and girls; perfect for children and young adults, especially of color. The latest release is about the talented Madam C.J. Walker. If you don't know about this great black wonder woman, then get settled and read further.


Madam C.J. Walker Builds a Business is just over 100 pages long but very informative. Born Sarah Breedlove in 1867, she was the first member of her family not born into slavery and to go to school. Although being a schoolgirl was short-lived, she still dreamed of possibility. Sarah lost loved ones, worked hard at multiple jobs, became a young widow and struggled with her own hair growth but never gave up the dream. 


"Her mission was to get as many women as she could to put down their washboards and pick up the ticket to prosperity." ~ pg. 64


This book is perfect for any young reader needing inspiration! A surprise was the equal rights element and mention of other historical figures. The illustrations are colorful, beautiful and detailed down to the hair edges carefully tucked into bonnets. The story moves along clearly into a motivating finish with suggested activities designed to help readers brainstorm an exciting new product. There is no better book for young female entrepreneurs than the story of America's first female self-made millionaire. 


Happy Early Pub Day! Madam C.J. Walker Builds a Business will be available Tuesday, January 17, 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: Madam C.J. Walker Builds a Business
Author: Denene Millner (text) and Salini Perera (illustrator)
Published: January 2023
Pages: 128
Edition: Galley
Genre: Biography; Children's Nonfiction
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

December 21, 2022

Lit to TV: Kindred & Firefly Lane


Kindred
I read the book umpteen years ago (at least 20) so I did not remember many details. I had full intention to re-read before the TV series premiere but time got away from me. (Much how it does Dana.) Good thing I remember the premise enough to follow the TV series better. Although, I suspect this is not quite the story written by Octavia E. Butler.

Kindred is the first science fiction novel written by a Black woman. This literature classic is part slave story, fantasy and historical fiction. The main character, Dana, has just celebrated her 26th birthday. She foolishly sold an inherited brownstone in New York and bought a house she only saw online across the country in Los Angeles. Right away, her decision-making skills earned a heavy side-eye. She makes other choices that make absolutely no sense and annoyed me to no end. 

Anyhoot—she begins to suddenly and inexplicably time travel to Maryland. The year is 1815. Each time she is tasked with saving a white boy named Rufus—from drowning, from suffocating, from falling off a tree. She transports back to the present just in time to save her own life. 

Time travel can get very confusing but it is the heart of Kindred. Multiple years are passing in the past, but only hours pass in the present. Dana's appearance is the same throughout. Yet it is easy to follow and eventually drew me in around the 3rd episode. I personally couldn't survive if I was transported back to slavery times and forced to accept being called the hard -er word. It still does not excuse Dana's impulsive behavior.

From what I recall, Kindred is wonderfully written. KindredFX is an entertaining binge-worthy show once you get over...well, the main character's actions throughout. Damn.

Title: Kindred 
Author: Octavia E. Butler
Cast: Mallori Johnson (Dana); Micah Stock (Kevin); David Alexander Kaplan (Rufus); Sheria Irving (Olivia); Ryan Kwanten (Thomas Weylin); Gayle Rankin (Margaret Weylin); Sophina Brown (Sarah)
Network: FX Hulu
S1 Premiere: 12.13.2022
Pub Date: June 1979
Episode Time: 1 Hour
Genre: Sci-Fi Fantasy
Edition: Paperback 
Book Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€
Show Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ 


Firefly Lane
Love, loss and the magic of friendship are the themes of Firefly Lane. Tully Hart and Kate Mularkey become besties at first sight. Their friendship begins in the summer of 1974. Kate is at the bottom of the social food chain until the cool new girl moves in across the street. Tully exudes ambition, confidence, beauty and brains. Kate is forever uncool, smart and boy-crazy. By the end of summer, they've become inseparable. 

This coming-of-age novel spans three decades of their friendship, love lives, careers and family happenings. There is comedy, betrayal, romance and drama. All the makings of a good chick lit book and TV series.

Season 2 on Netflix was so much better than the first season. More of Firefly Lane book was covered. (Don't bother with Fly Away, the book sequel. It was so bad that I didn't even finish.) I was surprised though how my opinions of Tully and Kate changed. I won't spoil it but the character I liked better became the character I found most annoying. After reading the books and now having watched two full seasons of the show, the friendship is quite lopsided. Firefly Lane is one of the rare instances where the TV adaptation was better than the book series! I highly recommend both.

Title: Firefly Lane
Author: Kristin Hannah
Cast: Katherine Heighl (adult Tully Hart); Alissa Skovbye (young Tully Hart); Sarah Chalke (adult Kate Mularkey); Roan Curtis (young Kate Mularkey); Ben Lawson (Johnny);  Beau Garrett (Cloud); Yael Yurman (Marah); Ignacio Serricchio (Danny)
Network: Netflix
S2 Premiere: 12.02.2022 
Pub Date: February 2008
Episode Time: 1 Hour
Genre: Drama / Chick Lit
Edition: Paperback 
Book Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€
Show Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

December 20, 2022

Lit Tidbits: Pithy Picks X


Hey, Bookhearts! Pithy Picks are such a fun bookish meme! I hope you find a few books below that are worth your time and learn which books to not spend coins on. 

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



Author: Onyi Nwabineli
Published: November 2022
Pithy Review: I have never read a book about grief written so beautifully. This debut novel takes us through all the emotions and harsh realities of an unimaginable, unexpected loss. A young woman loses her husband to suicide. The perfectly happy life she thought they had, turned upside down. Her tight-knit Nigerian family swoops in for support through the stages of grief and acceptance. 
Quote"Now someday is today and maybe is still maybe, but there is an infinity spreading out in front of me." ~ pg. 127
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️


Title: The Wife Before
AuthorShanora Williams
Published: June 2022
Pithy Review: Samira is a loser (my words, not the author's). She can't keep a job and mooches off her brother. Then she meets a wealthy pro golfer and relocates to his secluded mansion. Soon she is the second Mrs. Graham. But she discovers hidden journals belonging to the late wife, who died in a tragic accident. The media suspects it was no accident at all and that the perfect husband did it. Samira uncovers the truth. Recommended by my masseuse, this book was eye-rolling before the twists came one after another. Glad I kept reading. Reminiscent of CoHo's Verity and classic Rebecca. 
Quote"I went into this marriage knowing it would fail." ~ pg. 168
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️
⭐️


Title:
 The Weight of Blood
AuthorTiffany D. Jackson
Published: September 2022
Pithy Review: Horror, American history and racism wrapped in a YA novel. A biracial teen is attending the first integrated prom. But she's been passing as white her entire life, at the request of her white father. After a bullying video goes viral, the school's racist roots are put on blast and calls for change. But in true Carrie style, something happens at prom and Maddy's secrets costs lives.
Quote"The moment had been inevitable since the day she was born." ~ pg. 228
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️


Title:
 The Bookstore Sisters
Author: Alice Hoffman
Published: November 2022
Pithy Review: A short heartfelt story! Isabel is a New Yorker now, with no ties to Brinkley's Island, Maine. Her parents are gone; the family bookstore is bankrupt, and her sister will never speak to her again. But a mysterious letter arrives that prompts Isabel to return to the island. Sounds like a holiday Hallmark movie, right? Read this eShort if that's your jam.
Quote"That was when she began to plan her escape from the island." ~ pg. 6
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️


Title: I Choose Darkness
AuthorJenny Lawson
Published: September 2022
Pithy Review: Another eShort story by the awesome witty author Jenny Lawson! This is a hilarious account of her outrageous Halloween and holly jolly holiday life. It begins with her trick-or-treating days back in the 1980s to her present lifestyle as self-proclaimed queen of Halloween. It is too funny!
Quote"But, technically, wrapping paper is there only to hide the present until Christmas." ~ 9%
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


AuthorAlli Frank & Asha Youmans
Published: October 2022
Pithy Review: Sign me up to read whatever this author duo publishes! So well written, engaging and memorable characters are within this chick lit/women's fic. Marjette has her hands full preparing for a new class of kindergarteners. That is reason enough to keep to her side of the driveway when it comes to picture perfect flawless neighbor Noa. But when a child shows up on first day of school with a sexy ass Uncle but absent mourning mother, Marjette is forced to communicate with her neighbor. The rest of the story takes us through laughter, tears, head nods, loss, love and the gift of found family.
Quote"Super Jewish, is that kinda like Blackity Black?" ~ pg. 64
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Author: Danielle Prescod
Published: October 2022
Pithy Review: This sharp-witted and candid memoir unpacks a whole lot of truth about TBGs. It is a story of celebrating identity, growing up Black in an elite white community, and beauty/fashion standards. A few of the passages hit home, especially when she shares questions from eager curious coworkers that are indeed offensive. But overall, I couldn't connect any further with the author. She's still trying to be accepted among white peers and separating herself from us. The vibe is giving, "Like me because I'm not like them other Black girls!"
Quote"Of course, just one Token Black Girl is enough to cover representation for months to come. Singular, all quotas met." ~ 82%
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️


Title: One True Loves
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published: June 2016
Pithy Review: Reid's novels often have a message; OTL's is: listen to your heart! Emma marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They travel the world, live life to the ultimate fullest and seize every opportunity for adventure. On their very first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Fast forward years later and Emma finds herself in love again, engaged to another man. The second chance at happiness feeling bursts when Jesse is found alive. All these years, he's been trying to come home to her. Now Emma has to choose her one true love. I flipped these pages so quickly and left my heart on the last page. Wow!
Quote"I feel like my entire body is an open wound and I'm standing next to someone that may or may not pour salt all over me." ~ pg. 182 
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

December 18, 2022

Series Sunday: Triple Cross

(Alex Cross #30) 


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 Triple Cross, the 30th book in the Alex Cross series by James Patterson. A methodical serial killer is murdering whole families. And I don't mean "whole" as in exaggerated slang. I mean, killing the grandparents, parents, children and whatever pets may be in the house too. No generation is safe. No alarms are triggered. No physical evidence left behind. 

A famous author pitches a manuscript featuring the serial killer he calls "The Family Man." The true crime author finds clues that other detectives miss. Until Alex Cross and John Sampson get on the case. Meanwhile, Bree is working an investigation out of state. Could there be a link? 

I don't know if the Twitter backlash got to Patterson or what, but he dropped a co-author and wrote the heck out of Triple Cross. The action is jumping from the first chapter to the very last page. I stayed up late reading like the days of early Cross novels. Alex and Bree are at their prime, even 30 books into the series. Both are on top of their professional and parenting game. And the thriller part of Triple Cross? 5⭐️ with a cherry on top. Well done, Patterson.

Author: Alex Cross
Published: October 2022
Pages: 416
Edition: Hardcover
Genre: Mystery
Challenge: Keeping Up with Patterson
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

December 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.

"There's this dream 
I've been having 
about my mother 
that scares 
the holy night
out of me,
and each time I wake
from it
I'm afraid to open
my eyes
and face
the world that awaits, the
fractured world
that used to make sense,
but now seems
disjointed—islands of possibility
that float by—like
a thousand puzzle pieces
that just don't fit
together anymore."

~ Solo by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess 

December 11, 2022

Series Sunday: X & Y is for Yesterday

(Kinsey Millhone #24 & #25) 


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 picks are X and Y is for Yesterday, the last two books of the Kinsey Millhone series by Sue Grafton. In X, P.I. Kinsey Millhone thinks her next case will be an easy $200. Simply locate the son that a glamorous redhead put up for adoption 32 years ago. But then a cop confirms she was paid with marked bills and the client has disappeared. 

Meanwhile, the widow of Kinsey's old friend needs help with an IRS audit. This seemingly innocuous task takes a turn when Kinsey finds a coded list. Her investigation leads to an unhinged man. Kinsey quickly becomes the next target.

Family drama continues in Y is for Yesterday. Kinsey is hired for a disturbing case. A group of four teenage boys sexually assaulted a classmate and filmed the attack. Not long after, the suspected thief of the tape is murdered. One of the perps has been released from prison and the missing tape arrives with a ransom demand. Enter Kinsey Millhone for help.

My gripe about the Kinsey Millhone series from the very beginning has been the lack of personal information. Here I am, 25 books later, and I only know a smidgen more about Kinsey. The same minor details are within the first couple chapters. Nothing more. I am the reader that needs to feel a connection to characters. Yet Sue Grafton gave very little. 

The mysteries, however, were different every time with an element of danger, suspense and surprise. Fans speculated that Z would give us answers galore with a bombshell mystery. Welp, we will never know. But otherwise, it has been a good run for this series!

Title: X
Author: Sue Grafton 
Published: August 2015
Pages: 416
Edition: eBook
Genre: Mystery
Challenge: Perpetual Kinsey Millhone
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

Author: Sue Grafton
Published: August 2017
Pages: 483
Edition: Hardcover
Genre: Mystery
Challenge: Perpetual Kinsey Millhone
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€

December 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.



"I lost an arm on my last trip home. My left arm. And I lost about a year of my life and much of the comfort and security I had not valued until it was gone."

~ Kindred by Octavia E. Butler