July 30, 2023

Short Story Sunday: 23 1/2 Lies

(Women's Murder Club #23 1/2)



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.

"I knew he was dirty before I knew what dirty was." ~ 6%

Well this is something new...and I like it! 23 1/2 Lies features three (3) short stories. The first story (self-titled) is part of the Women's Murder Club series with author Maxine Paetro. Lindsey's estranged father is gunned down execution style and her investigation leads to life-altering truths.

Far as Linsdsey knew, her father died years ago. Yet she is called to the scene and discovers the victim is none other than Marty Boxer. Now she questions everything from why he was murdered to how everyone but his oldest daughter knew he was alive all this time.

23 1/2 was straight to the point yet predictable. I pegged the killer upon first mention which is usually not Patterson's/Paetro's style for WMC books. Yet the personal aspect of Lindsey, her childhood and relationship with sister was in the forefront. It's always nice to read about the personal lives of main characters in a series. So worth the read!

"You've been a Texas Ranger long enough to know there's no such thing as coincidence." ~ 33%

The second short story is titled Fallen Ranger with author Andrew Bourelle. A Texas Ranger named Rory Yates is loyal to the badge. He's put to the test when an armored car robbery suspect might be an ex-Ranger breaking the law to do good. Through days of duplicitousness, Rory determines whether his longtime friend is the man behind the crimes. 

The scenery descriptions make it very easy to imagine the story. I like how Rory relayed his thoughts out loud to the reader. Especially because his reasoning made sense as the mystery was revealed.

"I've had my fill of intrigue." ~ 85%

Watch Your Back is the third short story written with author Loren D. Estleman. An artist is paid to expose his client's cheating wife. He is tasked with painting the picture to save his own life. I was hoping this short story collection would be 3 out of 3 but nope. Watch Your Back was a dud. It started off that way and unfortunately never picked up speed or my interest.

All three (3) short stories can be read as a standalone. Perfect for reading-on-the-go!

Happy Early Pub Day, James Patterson! 23 1/2 Lies will be available Tuesday, September 12.

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: James Patterson
Published: September 2023
Pages: 448
Edition: Galley
Challenge: Keeping Up with Patterson
Genre: Mystery
23 1/2 Lies Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ 
Fallen Ranger Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€
Watch Your Back Rating: πŸ–€

July 28, 2023

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.

"Over the last three months, the SFPD homicide squad had been swamped by nightmarish murders of all types." ~ 23 1/2 Lies by James Patterson

"Delia Marquez rides shotgun in the armored truck, staring out the window as the scenery of Central Texas rolls by." ~ Fallen Ranger by James Patterson

"The sign towered above the horizontal suburb like a pagan shrine: a wide open, baleful eye perched atop a pyramid, reminiscent of the Masonic symbol on the obverse side of the dollar bill." ~ Watch Your Back by James Patterson

July 25, 2023

Adversity for Sale: Ya Gotta Believe


"One thing about me: I've always been able to spot an opportunity, and once I see it, I'm willing to do whatever it takes to capitalize on it to the fullest degree." ~ 28%

Jay Jenkins, better known as Young Jeezy, is an influential rapper credited for pioneering trap music. In his new memoir titled Adversity for Sale: Ya Gotta Believe, he shares never heard stories of his life and business. From day one, he turned nothing into something with his business-savvy mind and marketing genius at a young age. Please do not confuse this as a street memoir or just another book by a rapper; it is a deeply personal story that will motivate readers to go after your dreams despite your circumstances, obstacles, environment or adversity in the way of success. 

Adversity for Sale: Ya Gotta Believe is the authentic hip-hop memoir I didn't know the culture needed until I read it. Jeezy is one of my favorite artists. I knew some of his background through lyrics but the book gives greater detail. Jeezy explains his home life growing up, teenage years as a street hustler, connections to B.M.F., a timeline of his rap career and more. He truly has Seen it All

"Let's get it doesn't work if the let's doesn't include me." ~ 92%

There are two (2) factors keeping me from rating Adversity for Sale a full 5⭐️ book. I am curious about the title based on the content. Not once is "adversity" mentioned in the book. By definition, difficulties and misfortune are covered and Jeezy definitely showed resilience in the face of adversity. But for sale? Huh? The subtitle "Ya Gotta Believe" is much better suited.

The second factor is the abrupt ending. It leaves readers hanging in a way that is incomplete, not as a cliffhanger. It is such a hard stop that I am sending an email to the publisher to confirm whether my advance copy is missing pages intended for the ending. If so, I will return here and update my rating. Otherwise, I am left with a glaring question: how did this get past editing?

"Last time I checked, I was the man on these streets..." ~ 74%

Overall, Adversity for Sale: Ya Gotta Believe is a great addition to the literary world of hip-hop. I recommend this new release to Jeezy fans, rap music fans and readers that enjoy a good coming-of-age memoir. Like I previously mentioned, the lessons within are sure to motivate. To enhance your reading experience, I highly suggest playing the songs referenced on your music streaming app of choice. It slowed my reading time down by taking a break to jam to each lyric mentioned but I would read it no other way.

Happy Early Pub Day, Jeezy! Adversity for Sale will be available Tuesday, August 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.

Title: Adversity for Sale: Ya Gotta Believe
Author: Jay "Jeezy" Jenkins
Published: September 2023
Pages: 272
Edition: Galley
Genre: Memoir
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

July 23, 2023

Series Sunday Lit to TV Review: The Lincoln Lawyer & The Fifth Witness

(The Lincoln Lawyer #3, #4 & S2) 


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.

"I've stood next to men at the moment they knew that they were going free because of my good work." ~ 88%

My Series Sunday pick is The Reversal and The Fifth Witness, the third and fourth books in The Lincoln Lawyer series by Michael Connelly. Mickey Haller is back in my rotation and on Netflix!

I will be brief with my review of The Reversal simply because I did not like it. If it were a standalone novel, I would have marked it as DNF. But for series continuity purposes, I struggled through. Maybe because Mickey Haller traded sides to prosecute a high-profile retrial. I like him better as a defense attorney. He left stones unturned playing on the prosecution's side of the fence. So far, The Reversal is the dud of the series.

"The moves made outside the courtroom were always more significant than those made inside." ~ 21%

I was leery of moving on to The Fifth Witness. What if it was wack too? But Season 2 of the Netflix TV series follows the fourth book so I hurriedly read before binge-watching the five (5) available episodes that released on July 6.

Mickey Haller has expanded his law practice again. He is now taking on home foreclosure defense cases. It leads him to defending a client accused of killing the banker trying to take away her home. The defendant is hella annoying and loud (even through the pages I can hear her yelling). Despite the danger Haller encounters while working the case, he presents the best defense of his career.

"This was if-the-glove-doesn't-fit-you-must-acquit stuff." ~ 14%

Seeing The Fifth Witness storyline portrayed on Season 2 of the show made it all the more better. The cast has chemistry and true to the book physical appearances and personality descriptions. I especially like the different vanity license plates on Haller's Lincolns. His relationships with the prosecutors' office and the police department are more apparent onscreen too. Well done!

I cannot wait until August 3rd for more episodes!

Titles: The Reversal & The Fifth Witness & The Lincoln Lawyer: TV Series 
Author: Michael Connelly
Cast: Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (Mickey Haller)
Network: Netflix
S2 Premiere: July 2023
Episode Time: 1 Hour
Genre: Thriller
Edition: eBooks
Book Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€
Show Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ 

July 21, 2023

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 half jogged, half walked to catch up with my seventeen-year-old daughter in Chicago's O'Hare Airport, giving myself a pep talk. You are good at pivoting. You are the pivot. Be the pivot."

~ There's No Coming Back From This by Ann Garvin

July 20, 2023

Lit Tidbits: Pithy Picks XII


Hey, Bookhearts! Pithy Picks are a bookish meme created to help you quickly find books that are worth your time and coins. No need for a long review. Just read below!


Author: Rebecca Yarros
Published: August 2023
Pithy Review: Flight seatmates Nate and Izzy connect right away. Izzy never believed in destiny but Nate seems perfect. Just 90 seconds after takeoff, the plane goes down in the Missouri River. Fast forward to Izzy in politics and Nate in the military. They cross paths but timing doesn't feel right until a reunion in Afghanistan. Le sigh...this is war love story gone wrong.  
Quote"This was bullshit." ~ pg. 42
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️


Title: Lord of the Flies
Author: William Golding
Published: September 1954
Pithy Review: A small group of schoolboys are the only survivors when a plane crashes on a remote island. This book is a classic that I first read in grade school. This go-round was a buddy re-read with my niece as a reading assignment. Even though the major plot points stuck with me over the years, little details were seen with fresh eyes from an adult's perspective. Themes include leadership, rule of law, hierarchy and innocence lost. For the record, Piggy is my favorite character. These boys (savages) never stood a chance of survival. 
Quote"Which is better, law and rescue, or hunting and breaking things up?" ~ pg. 162
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Title:
 Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
Author: Isabel Wilkerson
Published: February 2023
Pithy Review: A masterful literary portrait of the caste system from its origin to America today. It goes beyond race and logic. It is rightfully the #1 nonfiction book of the year and deserving of all literary awards. I purchased both the eBook and the paperback so I could read wherever whenever, take notes and highlight passages.
Quote"What would any of us have done had we been in their places?" ~ pg. 266
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Title: Every Summer After
Author: Carley Fortune
Published: May 2022
Pithy Review: Another buddy read that was perfect for the summertime and reminiscent of my all-time favorite novel Summer Sisters by Judy Blume. Rightfully so a BookTok phenomenon. 
I heart Percy, Sam, and Three Updates! It took six summers to fall in love, one moment to fall apart and a weekend to fix it. This is a love coming-of-age story and about people that mark us forever. 
Quote"Every word is an arrow to my soul." ~ 69% 
Recommend or Nah? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

July 19, 2023

The Better Half


" So schoolmarm of me." ~ pg. 9

Mindy Kaling's Book Studio blesses us again with a good read! The Better Half is a new chick lit/women's fiction novel authored by the awesome writing duo: Alli Frank and Asha Youmans. 

Thanks to the Prime First Reads program, I was able to read The Better Half a month before its release. It allowed me to take my time reading without tons of new reviews posting to my Goodreads. I didn't want any spoilers! 

"This is supposed to be my year as a no-drama mama." ~ pg. 59

At 43 years old, Nina is finally stepping into her own. Her father is bouncing back after the loss of his wife. Her daughter is enrolled in boarding school. And her ex-husband has relocated across the country. Her dream job is now a reality: a first-generation, Black female head of a prominent school. 

Nina goes on a girls' trip with her best friend to celebrate this new chapter. But once the school year is underway, shit hits the fan from all angles. Her daughter accuses a teacher of misconduct and the repercussions of that girls' trip pushes Nina to the ethical limit and a life-altering choice.

"Ambivalence about your future gets you nowhere other than exactly where you are." ~ pg. 238

The storyline is real. The emotions are realer. The worries are the realest. Most importantly, all of the characters acted age-appropriate and were therefore relatable. Frank and Youmans have a way of threading social issues into a heartwarming story that still makes you smile and maybe even shed a tear. It is not heavy reading material by no means. In fact, it is a perfect summer read.

The Better Half is one of the better feel-good books! It is very charming with a touch of romance and good humor. Bookhearts, if you have Kindle Unlimited then this book is free. For others, it is well worth your coins.

Title: The Better Half
Author: Alli Frank and Asha Youmans
Published: July 2023
Pages: 326
Edition: eBook
Genre: Chick Lit
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ 

July 18, 2023

Fan Me Off


The Countdown is on for the Summer Renaissance Tour!

In 8 days, I am going to see That Girl. That's right, the Alien Superstar live in Detroit! I plan to dress comfortably and Cozy since I'm gon' let go of this Thique body like a Church Girl. Fingers crossed that Blue makes an appearance and brings the Carter Energy to the stage. I suggest anyone in my path Move out the way because I'll be with my sisters and we all need space!

In the meantime, I will be practicing choreo in the mirror and playing all of BeyoncΓ©'s solo albums in their entirety, along with learning Kendrick's verse on America Has a Problem Remix and the Cuff It Wetter Remix. I am getting my Virgo's Groove on so the lyrics will be All Up In My Mind.

Then another countdown for the Heated Houston home show with my best girls in 67 days!

July 16, 2023

Super Series Sunday: Eugeena Patterson Mystery Part 2

(Eugeena Patterson #3, #4 & #5) 


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.

Eugeena Patterson #3
"You never get too old not to listen to your mama." ~ 79%

My 1st Super Series Sunday pick is Lemon Filled Disaster, the third book in the Eugeena Patterson series. Retirement has not slowed Eugeena down. She is busy volunteering at an after-school program and helping plan a wedding for her son Cedric. The longtime bachelor is finally ready to settle down with his girlfriend Carmen.

During wedding planning errands, Eugeena and Carmen are confronted by an aggressive man. When he is later found dead, Carmen becomes the main suspect. Eugeena must prove her future daughter-in-law's innocence or the wedding will never happen.

What I love most about cozy mysteries are the developing characters throughout the series. We find out little tidbits in every book. Lemon Filled Disaster focuses on less Eugeena and more of Carmen, Cedric and secrets of the past. The story unfolds at a good pace with a surprising, but happy, ending.

Author: Tyora Moody 
Published: April 2018
Pages: 219
Edition: eBook
Genre: Cozy Christian Mystery
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Eugeena Patterson #4
"Did you kill a girl and leave her body in my shed?"  ~ 24%

My 2nd Super Series Sunday pick is A Simmering Dilemma, the fourth book in the series. Eugeena and Mr. Amos are finally married! Their new life together is put to the test when Amos' daughter moves in next door. She parties to all hours of the night, hooking up with old friends and causing ruckus in the otherwise quiet neighborhood.

Amos receives a phone call in the middle of the night; his daughter found a dead body and she's the main suspect. Determined not to rock the boat between Amos and his daughter, Eugeena can tell there are secrets and the whole story isn't being told. 

Solving this mystery is literally close to home. Eugeena has to keep her new marriage conflict-free but also find out his daughter's real motives. This is what kept me interested. Once again, the author shines a light on supporting characters and gives layers to the cozy mystery series.

Author: Tyora Moody 
Published: October 2020
Pages: 235
Edition: eBook
Genre: Cozy Christian Mystery
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Eugeena Patterson #5
"People lead messy lives. Sometimes it's hard to clean up those stains. They stick with you."  ~ 93%

My last Super Series Sunday pick is An Unsavory Mess, the fifth book in the series. Bless Eugeena's heart for promising to hang up her amateur sleuth hat. We all know that was short-lived. When she attends a high school reunion with friend, Rosemary, they face off with their number one enemy. 

True to mystery style, the nemesis is found dead not too long after their public argument. There is no choice but to clear her and Rosemary from the top of murder suspect list.

I did not enjoy this last installment much as the others. It was too predictable the whole way through. Eugeena was a bit annoying with her mystery busting ways. It doesn't discourage me from wanting more of this series and my now favorite cozy mystery retiree. Now that I am all caught up, there is no word of a new book coming soon. I hope the series continues with less obvious storylines!

Author: Tyora Moody 
Published: October 2021
Pages: 231
Edition: eBook
Genre: Cozy Christian Mystery
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€

July 14, 2023

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 can't even front, I started out as a thief."

~ Adversity for Sale: Ya Gotta Believe by Jay "Jeezy" Jenkins

July 13, 2023

Historically Black Phrases


"Black people are the ultimate storytellers." ~ pg. 68

What attracts me to a book is its cover then the title. It is the first impression. In this case, I was even more interested because of the subtitle: From "I Ain't One of Your Lil' Friends" to "Who All Gon' Be There?" If you have never uttered one of these phrases, then just close my review now because you will not understand or fully grasp what this new book means to the culture.

I knew Historically Black Phrases would live up to its title soon as I read the dedication: "To Boo Boo the Fool." So I settled in with a cup of southern sweet tea and a slice of 7-Up pound cake while I read through this dictionary in one sitting. Its contents are divided into sections including compliments, church sayings, units of measure and more. It is a celebration of our language!

"You ain't said nothin' but a word." ~ pg. 145

When I tell you I cackled and slapped my knees in laughter as I read almost every page. The phrases are spot-on and so widely used in the Black community. There were very few that I was not familiar with but have since added to my vocabulary. Each phrase includes the pronunciation, translation, usage and an example. 

Thanks to the authors for giving Black language its flowers. I recommend Historically Black Phrases for all Bookhearts to laugh and learn.

Happy Early Pub Day, Jarrett Hill and Tre'vell Anderson! Historically Black Phrases will be available Tuesday, September 19.

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: Historically Black Phrases
Author: Jarrett Hill and Tre'vell Anderson
Published: September 2023
Pages: 304
Edition: Galley
Genre: Nonfiction Comedy
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

July 12, 2023

Forgive Me Not


"All I can say is, the system isn't as balanced as people like to think it is." ~ 64%

Author Jennifer Baker introduces a new form of juvenile justice in Forgive Me Not. One bad decision changes the course of 15-year-old Violetta's life. Underage drinking led Violetta to drunk driving and causing an accident that kills her little sister. Instead of the traditional route of incarceration, she is faced with two options—remain in juvie detention for an uncertain sentence or participate in Trials to regain her freedom and family's forgiveness.

All I could think while reading was, "What if the victim or victim's family were to decide the fate of the accused rather than a judge or jury? How effective could this forgiveness program be in real life?" If the author's intent was to raise awareness on second chances and the juvenile justice system, then well done!

Forgive Me Not is especially recommended for young adults and teen book clubs. The writing is concise, relatable and thought-provoking. Told in alternate points of view, the narration helps readers experience what Violetta and her family is feeling. Bookhearts, after reading Forgive Me Not, you will walk away with a different outlook on forgiveness, consequences and most of all, family.

Happy Early Pub Day, Jennifer Baker! Forgive Me Not will be available Tuesday, August 15.

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: Forgive Me Not
Author: Jennifer Baker
Published: August 2023
Pages: 400
Edition: Galley
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

July 11, 2023

The Art of Desire


"Common sense is screaming that nothing should happen between us." ~ 57%

Alex has sworn off men after doomed love affairs. Now her focus is on a writing career. A chance meeting with a handsome stranger proves that truth can be stranger than fiction. Phillip is trying to rebuild his life after three years inside a terrorist organization. His first assignment is to pick up Alex from the airport. The second assignment is unplanned—his instant attraction to her. Which makes the third assignment that more harder as he tries to keep her safe from his dangerous past.

I struggled reading The Art of Desire. The beginning threw me for a loop because it seemed so unlike the description. Did I download the right book? Where is the chemistry between Alex and Phillip? As I read further, I lost interest in how it played out because the desire just wasn't there. The characters were not relatable enough to invest my emotions or to care how it would end. Unfortunately this romance was a miss. I hope other bookhearts will enjoy it more than I did.

Happy Early Pub Day, Stacey Abrams (writing as Selena Montgomery)! The Art of Desire will be available Tuesday, September 5.

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 Art of Desire
Author: Stacey Abrams (writing as Selena Montgomery)
Published: September 2023
Pages: 288
Edition: Galley
Genre: Romance
Rating: πŸ–€ 

July 9, 2023

Series Sunday: Cross Down

(Alex Cross #31) 


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.

"Gamble again and again, and eventually the house–Death–will win." ~ 41%

My Series Sunday pick is Cross Down, the 31st book in the Alex Cross series by James Patterson. But this one is special. It is the very first Alex Cross & John Sampson thriller! And oh, how much we enjoyed this story. It was the perfect buddy read with Chickadee.

Patterson has released something I didn't know I needed: a novel narrated by John Sampson, Alex Cross's best friend and partner detective. For the first time, Sampson is on his own since Alex is gravely injured. More than 300 Americans have been killed and thousands more injured in not-so-random attacks. 

"What's two years to avenge an injustice?" ~ 33%

In this fast-paced novel, Sampson alone seeks truth and justice while protecting his daughter, the Cross family, the president and every American. God forbid anyone that stands in the way. Most importantly, he trusts no one. 

Classic James Patterson style. Action from the very start. Paragraphs filled with suspense. Engaging dialogue. Signature short chapters encouraging page turns. Unsuspecting traitors. I could go on and on because Cross Down has all the makings of a 5⭐️ mystery. A must-read for Alex Cross series fans.

P.S. Feed me more, Jimmy!

Title: Cross Down
Author: James Patterson
Published: June 2023
Pages: 465
Edition: eBook
Genre: Mystery
Challenge: Keeping Up With Patterson
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

July 7, 2023

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.

"The boy with fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way towards the lagoon."

~ Lord of the Flies by William Golding