Review: Hurricane Sisters by Lauren K. Denton

Hurricane Season by Lauren K. Denton
Expected Publication: April 3, 2018
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Format: via NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

Betsy and Ty Franklin, owners of Franklin Dairy Farm in southern Alabama, have decided to put life’s disappointments behind them. At least in theory. Ty manages their herd of dairy cows, while Betsy busies herself with the farm’s day-to-day operations and tries to forget the longing for motherhood set deep in her heart. But when Betsy’s free-spirited younger sister Jenna drops her young daughters off at the farm to attend a two-week art retreat in Florida, Betsy’s carefully constructed wall of self-protection begins to crumble.

As those two weeks stretch much farther into the hot Alabama summer, Betsy and Ty learn to navigate the new additions in their world and revel in a home that’s suddenly filled with the sound of laughter and life. Meanwhile, record heat promises to usher in the most active hurricane season in decades.

Four hundred miles away, Jenna is fighting her own battles. She’d once been free to travel and pursue a career in photography, but all that changed with the appearance of two pink lines on a plastic stick and a boyfriend who hit the road. At Halcyon art retreat, she finally has the time and energy to focus on her photography. As the summer continues, she wonders how her rediscovered passion can fit in with the life she’s made back home with her two children.

When Hurricane Ingrid aims her steady eye at the Alabama coast, Jenna must make a decision that could affect both her and her children’s futures, and Betsy and Ty find themselves protecting their beloved farm as well as their own hearts.

My Thoughts
Hurricane Sisters is about two sisters Betsy and Jenna who are as different as night and day. Betsy is married and lives on a dairy farm and she and her husband are having a tough time trying to have children. Jenna is a single free-spirited mom who is feeling the pressure of being a single mom and kind of longs for a break.

Jenna is offered a spot at an artist retreat to explore her photography so she decides to call up Betsy out of the blue and ask if she could take care of her two girls. Betsy always being the pleasing one agrees and soon she and Ty have a house full of children and no idea what to do.

I honestly enjoyed this story. I loved how opposite each sister is and how each one kind of envy what the other one has even though they don’t know it. To be honest I enjoyed Betsy’s story more than Jenna’s for some reason. I think maybe I connected with her more and really felt everything she was going through. I know this story was named hurricane and there is a hurricane that plays a huge part of the storyline but I just thought there would be a bigger climax when it came to it, but I just didn’t get that payoff that I was expecting, otherwise, I was fully happy with the read.

Hurricane Sisters is a great story and beautifully written, the author gave us a story of love, forgiving and accepting plus I love any story that showcases the South. This is one story that was a quick and easy read one that will satisfy the pickiest of readers.

Blog Tour: Be A Good Girl by Tess Diamond

Be A Good Girl by Tess Diamond
Series: n/a; standalone
Genre: Adult, Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: March 27, 2018
Amazon  |  Avon Romance  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Google Play  |  iBooks

In Tess Diamond’s third romantic thriller, an FBI agent teams up with the one woman who can offer the salvation he needs as they search for a serial killer.
As the head of an elite FBI unit, Special Agent Paul Harrison seems to have everything figured out, but beneath the surface, an internal war is raging. When he returns to his rural hometown for the first time in a few years, he’s faced with the memories that led to his losing the love of his life.
Fifteen years ago, Abigail Winthrop’s best friend and Paul’s girlfriend was murdered by the infamous serial killer, Doctor X. Now an investigative journalist, she’s determined to find the truth. But when Abigail discovers evidence that clears Doctor X, she realizes the real killer is still out there and is striking again when local young girls begin disappearing.
Turning to Paul for help, Abigail joins forces with him. As an undeniable attraction develops between them, they must heal deep wounds from their past—and find a relentless psychopath who could extinguish their hopes for a future together.

Abby took a deep breath, her eyes settling on the words. This was it. In just minutes, she’d be face-to-face with him. Her heart was hammering in her chest at the thought.
She turned back to Stan and was surprised at how troubled the older man looked.
“Are you sure about this?” he asked her.
“I’m a big girl, Stan,” she said. “You don’t have to worry about me.”
“Look . . .” He licked his lips, looking nervous.
“He’s tricky. Really tricky.”
“I’ve heard the rumors,” Abby said.
She didn’t need the rumors. She knew from real life exactly how sick the man she was about to meet was. She had spent the last two years learning everything there was to know about him. She’d talked to every teacher he’d ever had, every relative who was willing to speak to her and not slam the door in her face. She’d talked to every single person who’d even had a modicum of contact with Howard Wells, better known as Dr. X.
She knew him. And she was about to use that knowledge to get what she wanted from him.
“I just want you to be careful,” Stan said. “He knows exactly what to say to get to you.”
“I know he talked an inmate into killing himself,” Abby said.
“Not just one,” Stan said quietly, looking over his shoulder nervously before lowering his voice and adding, “And not just inmates.”
Abby’s eyes widened at the implication. She knew she should press Stan for more information, but she also knew she could ferret out the truth herself with a little research. She didn’t want to make him even more nervous, especially because he was authorized to cut her meeting short if he deemed the situation unsafe. “I appreciate your concern,” she told Stan.
“But I’ll only be asking him questions.”
“Okay,” Stan said. “Just don’t get too close.” He took her through the same rundown she’d gotten when she’d first entered the prison: no contact, no passing the prisoner anything, and no getting within even ten feet of the prisoner. Abby had a feeling that the last one was a specific rule for the man she was about to see.
The solitary wing was quiet as they walked through it to the very end, where a door led to another, even more, isolated section.
“Inmate 3847, your visitor is here,” Stan called out. Abby’s skin prickled at the change in his voice. When talking with her, he had been kind, almost grandfatherly. But now, his voice was stern and authoritative, full of “don’t fuck with me” attitude.
“You sit here,” Stan said, pointing his baton at the bench set a good ten feet away from the thick, clear plastic wall that made up the front of Howard’s cell. “Inmate 3847, come forward.”
There was a pause, and Abby had to bite the inside of her cheek as he shuffled into view.
Howard Wells was fifteen years older than the last time she’d seen a picture of him, but he was no less terrifying. Goosebumps—the dreadful, horror-filled kind—spread across her skin as his eyes met hers.
His hair was gray now, slicked back, the comb tracks visible like he’d carefully groomed it for this meeting. His orange jumpsuit was clean and tidy, his bright blue eyes shining in his craggy face.
His feet were shackled, but instead of his hands being cuffed, he was in a straitjacket, his arms lashed to his sides. Despite this, he held himself like he was the emperor of his own tiny kingdom. Like she was a serf who had the honor of experiencing his presence.
Abby showed no emotion as she sat down, placing her notebook and pen in her lap. Stan hovered in the corner, and Abby gave him a small nod.
“I’ll be right outside,” he said. “Panic button is right here.” He pointed meaningfully at the red button on the wall. “Don’t try any of your manipulative shit, Wells.”
A light tsking sound filled the air as Stan left them alone, and Abby stared at him. He came forward, so he was just inches behind the thick sheet of Plexiglas that kept him from going for her. “Abigail Winthrop,” he said.
“Hello, Howard,” she said. She refused to call him Mr. Wells. And she certainly wasn’t going to call him Doctor. There wasn’t going to be any difference here.
She wasn’t playing his game. She was here for answers—and she was going to get them…

Tour Wide Giveaway

To celebrate the release of BE A GOOD GIRL, we’re giving away a paperback copy of SUCH A PRETTY GIRL by Tess Diamond!

Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback copy of Such A Pretty Girl by Tess Diamond.  This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance.  Giveaway ends 4/10/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address.  Duplicates will be deleted. 

Tess Diamond is a romantic suspense addict with a taste for danger – and chocolate cake. She lives in Colorado Springs with her law enforcement husband, two kids, and ferocious Jack Russell guard dog. She always dreamed of being an FBI agent, and now she almost is – if watching 24 reruns and plotting her next novel counts.

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Review: The Secret to Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey

The Secret to Southern Charm [Peachtree Bluff #2] by Kristy Woodson Harvey
Published: April 3, 2018
Publisher: Gallery Books
Format: via author
Rating: 4.5/5

After finding out her military husband is missing in action, middle sister Sloane’s world crumbles as her worst nightmare comes true. She can barely climb out of bed, much less summon the strength to be the parent her children deserve.

Her mother, Ansley, provides a much-needed respite as she puts her personal life on hold to help Sloane and her grandchildren wade through their new grief-stricken lives. But between caring for her own aging mother, her daughters, and her grandchildren, Ansley’s private worry is that secrets from her past will come to light.

But when Sloane’s sisters, Caroline and Emerson, remind Sloane that no matter what, she promised her husband she would carry on for their young sons, Sloane finds the support and courage she needs to chase her biggest dreams—and face her deepest fears. Taking a cue from her middle daughter, Ansley takes her own leap of faith and realizes that, after all this time, she might finally be able to have it all.

My Thoughts
This is the second book in the Peachtree Bluff series and once again Kristy Woodson Harvey gives us a story of family and ties so strong nothing can break them apart. In this book, while we get glimpses of all three sisters and their mother Ansley this one does focus on Sloane and the aftermath she must face when her husband is MIA in the military. We see how the family comes together and try to make Sloane not just wallow and sink into depression but to keep on living for the sake of her children.

Her mother Ansley still hasn’t decided what to do since her first true love has moved into the house next door yet she finds herself jealous when she thinks he has moved on to someone new. She must decide what she wants and do whats best for her and make herself happy for a change and not just worry about others.

As someone who has read all of Kristy’s books the one common thread that I love throughout them all is family. I love how she makes arguments, lies and everyday family things that could be overlooked standout. She writes so flawlessly that you cannot help but be drawn in and mesmerized by her words. With so many characters and storylines other authors might not be up to the job but Kristy never confuses you and every character has their own distinct voice. She gives us another winner with The Secret to Southern Charm so do yourself a favor and devour this one just like I did.


Review: All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson

All The Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson
Published: April 3, 2018
Publisher: William Morrow
Format: via Edelweiss
Rating: 4/5

Harry Ackerson has always considered his stepmother Alice to be sexy and beautiful, in an "otherworldly" way. She has always been kind and attentive if a little aloof in the last few years.

Days before his college graduation, Alice calls with shocking news. His father is dead and the police think it’s suicide. Devastated, Harry returns to his father’s home in Maine. There, he and Alice will help each other pick up of the pieces of their lives and uncover what happened to his father.

Shortly after he arrives, Harry meets a mysterious young woman named Grace McGowan. Though she claims to be new to the area, Harry begins to suspect that Grace may not be a complete stranger to his family. But she isn’t the only attractive woman taking an interest in Harry. The sensual Alice is also growing closer, coming on to him in an enticing, clearly sexual way.

Mesmerized by these two women, Harry finds himself falling deeper under their spell. Yet the closer he gets to them, the more isolated he feels, disoriented by a growing fear that both women are hiding dangerous—even deadly—secrets . . . and that neither one is telling the truth.
My Thoughts
Since I've discovered Peter Swanson’s book I have devoured them slowly but surely so when I read he had a new book coming out I knew I had to get my hands on a copy! In All the Beautiful Lies we met Alice who married to a much older man and is stepmother to Harry. We find out that Harry’s father is dead and Harry comes back to town to deal with it. He has always found Alice attractive and semi close in age but he tries to not think of her in that way. Soon he finds himself taken by both Alice and a mysterious lady, Grace who claims to have had a relationship of sorts with his father. Harry soon realizes that maybe his father's death wasn’t just an accident but maybe something more sinister.

We soon find out more about Alice and her upbringing and that to me is the meat of this story. We see her growing up and see some of the things she dealt with, like an alcoholic mother and a stepfather who wasn’t all that he lead us to believe. Alice’s past and her relationships showcase what lead her to become the person she is today. She definitely has some issues that she needs to come to terms with and those are some of the things that make this novel so riveting.

Peter Swanson gives us a tale that is twisted and dark, about obsession and lies and that’s what I love about his writing. There are some twists and turns that I didn’t see coming and Alice’s background story was amazing! He gives us another winner in this novel and I can't stress enough about how great his books are so please if you haven’t read them what are you waiting for??


Blog Tour: Sweet Home Summer by Michelle Vernal

Sweet Home Summer
What’s a Matchmaker? I’m thinking a really, really old Irish version of Tinder…
Isla Brookes was terrified of leading a little life in the small New Zealand town where she was born and where her gran and mum were also born and bred. To escape their fate, she breaks it off with her teenage sweetheart and runs away to London. She’s spent the last ten years climbing the interior design career ladder and meeting the wrong kind of man until one day she wakes up and wonders what it’s all been for. Leaving her latest unsuitable man and job for dust Isla winds up sitting on a beanbag in therapy at a Californian retreat, where she realizes it’s time to go home.
They breed em tough on New Zealand’s West Coast. A fact Isla’s grandmother, Bridget prides herself on. Her heart was broken once, and she won’t let it happen again, but now ever since her husband passed away, someone’s been sending her Valentine’s Day cards.
When the dance hall, the scene for this heartbreak, falls into decline, Bridget decides the link to her first love must be restored even if the events of long ago can’t be put right. She’s never heard of dating apps, so in a nod to her Irish ancestry, she decides to hold a fundraising Matchmaker Festival.
Then Rohan Sullivan blows into town on a strange wind offering his services as a bona fide matchmaker; suddenly it’s time for both women to remedy the mistakes of their past.

About Michelle Vernal
Hello, my name is Michelle Vernal, and by way of introduction, I’m Mum to Josh and Daniel and am married to the super supportive Paul. We live in the garden city of Christchurch, New Zealand with our three-legged, black cat called Blue. BC (before children) Paul and I lived and worked in Ireland, the experiences we had there have flavored my books.
I’ve always written, but it was only after my first son was born that I decided to attend a creative writing course at Canterbury University. Oh the guilt dropping him at pre-school so I could learn the basics of story writing, but oh the joy of having a conversation to contribute other than the price of nappies that week!  The first piece I ever penned post course was published by a New Zealand parenting magazine. I went on to write humorous; opinion styled pieces of my take on parenting, but when the necessity for being politically correct got too much, I set myself the challenge of writing a novel. Six books later and a publishing deal with Harper Impulse here I am. These days I write for a lifestyle magazine and my latest book Sweet Home Summer has just been released by Harper Impulse.
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Review: A Nantucket Wedding by Nancy Thayer

A Nantucket Wedding by Nancy Thayer
Expected Publication: April 3, 2018
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Format: via publisher
Rating: 3.5/5

A few years after losing her beloved husband, Alison is doing something she never thought she would do again: getting married. While placing the finishing touches on her summer nuptials, Alison is anxious to introduce her fiancé, David, to her grown daughters: Felicity, a worried married mother of two, and Jane, also married but focused on her career. The sisters have a somewhat distant relationship and Alison hopes that the wedding and the weeks leading up to the ceremony will give the siblings a chance to reconnect, as well as meet and get to know David’s grown children.

As the summer progresses, it is anything but smooth sailing. Felicity stumbles upon a terrible secret that could shatter her carefully cultivated world. Jane finds herself under the spell of her soon-to-be stepbrother, Ethan, who is as charming as he is mysterious. And even Alison is surprised (and slightly alarmed) by her new blended family. Revelations, intrigue, resentments—as the Big Day approaches, will the promise of bliss be a bust?

My Thoughts
In A Nantucket Wedding we met Alison who is happily in love and is planning her upcoming wedding to David, so all she wants is to get both sides of their families together as much as possible before their wedding how that is easier said than done. Alison has two daughters and each one is different as night and day. Jane is a lawyer and married with no kids and by the books and never has done anything out of sorts, Felicity is the more laid back one who is married with kids but is fearing that something is up with her husband. Now David has a daughter is plain spoiled in my opinion and is being simply difficult towards Alison and her daughters, and he also has a son who is a flat out flirt who flirts with both of Alison’s daughters despite the fact he isn’t divorced himself.

While I found some flaws with parts of the story such as Felicity’s storyline with her husband who I found to be an ass I wish she had more of a backbone and stood up for herself more. I felt like when it was useful to him that’s when he wanted to be involved with Felicity’s family. Not to mention the storyline with Jane and David’s son which I never bought from the get-go but was glad when it didn’t go where I thought it might.

However, overall I did enjoy this beach read, which this is perfect for by the way. I did like the family aspect of this read and the story of Alison and David. I liked that David stood up for Alison when his daughter was being mean and spiteful towards Alison. I loved how the more time both families spent together they slowly but surely became a great blended family, and I also liked how this felt so real. They didn’t come together as an insta-family but like reality, they had their troubles and bumps but in the end, they meshed together quite well. This was an enjoyable read one that will be perfect for the warmer months ahead so definitely keep this one on your radar.


Review: Our Little Secret by Roz Nay

Our Little Secret by Roz Nay
Expected Publication: April 17, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Format: via publisher
Rating: 5/5

They say you never forget your first love. What they don't say though, is that sometimes your first love won't forget you...

A police interview room is the last place Angela expected to find herself today. It's been hours, and they keep asking her the same inane questions over and over. "How do you know the victim?" "What's your relationship with Mr. Parker?" Her ex's wife has gone missing, and anyone who was close to the couple is a suspect. Angela is tired of the bottomless questions and tired of the cold room that stays the same while a rotating litany of interrogators changes shifts around her. But when criminologist Novak takes over, she can tell he's not like the others. He's ready to listen, and she knows he'll understand. When she tells him that her story begins a decade before, long before Saskia was in the picture, he gives her the floor.

A twenty-something young professional, Angela claims to have no involvement. How could she? It's been years since she and H.P., Mr. Parker that is, were together. As her story unfolds, it deepens and darkens. There's a lot to unpack... betrayal, jealousy, and a group of people who all have motives for retribution. If Angela is telling the truth, then who's lying?

My Thoughts
In Our Little Secret, the novel opens up with Angela being interviewed by the police about a murder. We know it has to do with a girl named Saskia and she is the wife of H.P. a friend of Angela’s. Next is the whole story as to whom Saskia is and how the story of Angela and H.P. unfolds.

We meet Angela who moves to a new school and who is quickly befriended by the popular H.P. they live down the street from one another and are instantly inseparable. Growing up there was a little sense of H.P and Angela and if they would ever hook up but not until their last year of high school do they finally reveal their feelings towards one another. Angela goes away for a semester abroad and when H.P. comes to visit this is the first time we met Saskia who was there at a party and where she totally flirts with H.P. H.P. flirts backs and this is where things go off the rails with Angela.

Through the years they lose touch but always seem to come back together even as friends so when Angela comes home she realizes H.P. and Saskia are together and soon they marry. Of course, she isn’t the biggest fan she misses her friend and still loves H.P. honestly. However, she is forced to accept them together and by then Saskia is pregnant or lose H.P. forever. She eventually wedges herself into their lives that is a bit unhealthy and soon Saskia is missing and no one knows where she is. This is where we see Angela at the police station being questioned about Saskia’s murder.

Now the question is did Angela truly do it or was it someone else? When she tells who she thinks did it, it is jaw dropping! But is she telling the truth or not? Is she being honest or is she just a psychopath who is way off her rocker? When the ending was revealed I had chills! Angela is one character that I won't soon forget and I know you won't either. This is one twist after twist of a suspenseful novel that is really smartly written that will have you captivated until the very end.


Cover Reveal: Love You S'more by Beth Merlin

Love You S’more by Beth Merlin
(The Campfire Series, #3)
Published by: Firefly Hill Press
Publication date: August 21, 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary

Having successfully designed the wedding gown of the century, Gigi Goldstein is on top of the world – that is until it all suddenly comes crashing down around her. When the paparazzi captures her and Perry Gillman in a compromising moment the night of the royal wedding, she finds herself entangled in a scandal of global proportion. Convinced her carelessness has ruined every relationship in her life, she’s surprised and moved by her boyfriend, Gideon’s, sudden proposal of marriage and accepts it without a second thought.
Four months later, Gigi’s living at Badgley Hall contemplating an entirely new kind of life, while guilt, regret, and obligation keep calling her back to her old one. Will Gigi
stay in South Gloucestershire, marry Gideon, and become the Countess of Harronsby?
Or, will unfinished opportunities and an old flame bring her back across the pond to confront her past and reclaim her future?
Previous books in the series:

Author Bio:
Beth Merlin has a BA from The George Washington University where she minored in Creative Writing and a JD from New York Law School. She’s a native New Yorker who loves anything Broadway, rom-coms, her daughter Hadley, and a good maxi dress. She was introduced to her husband through a friend she met at sleepaway camp and considers the eight summers she spent there to be some of the most formative of her life. One S’more Summer is Beth’s debut novel.



Review: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Published: January 9, 2018
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Format: audiobook via Overdrive
Rating: 5/5

If you were told the date of your death, how would it shape your present?

It's 1969 in New York City's Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

Their prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in '80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11, hoping to control fate; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

My Thoughts
That one question in the synopsis: If you were told the date of your death, how would it shape your present, is what pulled me to this novel. In The Immortalists, we met the Gold siblings and through sections in the novel we see how each one’s lives play out over the years. I liked this style because we get their full life story in one sitting and see what becomes of each one. Each sibling always has the one day etched into their brains, that date that the psychic told them that they would meet their fate. So my question is did they truly live life to the fullest knowing what day they would die or did knowing the date cause them more harm than good?

Each of them knew when she claimed they would die but they never told one another. Did this cause them to live a more carefree life doing what they truly wanted or did this wreck their lives to the core? I connected with some of the siblings' stories more than the others and the ones that I did have truly stayed with me till this day, I won't say which ones so I won't spoil anything, but there are parts of this book that wrecked me.

As you can tell I truly loved and enjoyed this book, but what I loved most was that it makes you think and question life, it is beautifully written with a powerful message and I hope everyone gets the chance to explore this magical read.


Release Blitz: My Way Back to You by Claire Contreras

MyWayBackToYou Release Banner

The emotional conclusion of New York Times Bestselling Author Claire Contreras’s Second Chances Duet is NOW LIVE!


My Way Back to You by Claire Contreras 

Book 2, Second Chances Duet 

Genre: Contemporary Romance 

Publication Date: March 15th, 2018

Love isn't always about timing. Sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind and roll with it. I admit I wasn't ready. I know you don't want to look at me, let alone talk to me, but please, let me explain. Let me tell you all the ways my heart broke when you walked away. Let me show you what our years apart have done to me. Give me a chance to find my way back to you . . .

Read Today!

FREE in Kindle Unlimited Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2FB2aUo 
Add to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2Ebsb7V

Start the Duet Today!

Then There Was You, Book 1 FREE in Kindle Unlimited!
Add to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2BNsV5C

Meet Claire:

Claire Contreras is a New York Times Best Selling Author. Her books range from romantic suspense to contemporary romance and are currently translated in seven different languages. She lives in Miami, Fl with her husband, two adorable boys, three bulldogs, and two stray cats that she refuses to admit are hers (even though they live on her porch, she named them, and continues to feed them). When she's not writing, she's usually lost in a book. ClaireContreras (1)

Connect with Claire:

Website: http://www.clairecontrerasbooks.com/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CContrerasBooks/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Claricon/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ClaireContreras/ 

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/ccontrerasbooks/ 

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2BgzLQ0


Review: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Published: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Format: audiobook via Overdrive
Rating: 5/5

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

My Thoughts
Wow is all I can say about this amazing book! In An American Marriage went Celestial and Roy who are newly married and are visiting Roy’s parents when something as simple as staying in a hotel changes their lives forever. Roy is accused and charged with rape and soon everything that they thought their future was is no longer. You see Roy’s innocence is never in question, we know he is innocent and was falsely accused from the start, but what the real story here is what his time behind bars does to him and Celestial.

Celestial stands by Roy and helps him but soon he has been in jail longer than they were married and as time goes by she realizes that they have both grown apart of sorts, he has grown up in prison and her life on the outside has changed her also. While she still loves and cares for him she can no longer just wait for him, she feels the need to move on and her longtime friend Andre is happy to help her. Now personally I could’ve done without the Andre factor but I get, there are some other storylines that are woven in that once are connected are powerful, but the real gems here for me, are always Roy and Celestial. I honestly felt for both of them. Roy was a good guy who got the ultimate bad rap. To be innocent and imprisoned harden him some and you see that later in the novel. His time there did change who he was. Celestial has always been there for him but who could blame her for wanting to move on? She loves him no doubt but I understood she wanted a real family, love, and affection and you can't have that with someone who isn’t physically there.

This novel shows us that love can't always conquer all things. That sometimes no matter how much you love someone sometimes the best thing you can do is to let them go. People change and sometimes we change in different directions no matter how hard we try to stick together. This read was a powerful one of love, family, and our inner strength. It's about our ability to fight for what we want yet to know when its time to let go. Tayari Jones has written a beautiful tale that shows us that life is raw and unfair yet still gives us hope with the fact that we all deserve to be loved and care for. That we can take all these things that life throws at us and still survive, this is one read that will still with me forever, it is that amazing!


Review: Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser
Expected Publication: March 27, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Format: via publisher
Rating: 4/5

When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal.

By Monday morning, one of them is gone.

Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. Kristin was a sociable twin mom, college administrator, and doctor’s wife who didn’t seem all that bothered by her impending divorce—and the investigation turns up more questions than answers, with her husband, Paul, at the center. For her closest neighbor, Clara, the incident triggers memories she thought she’d put behind her—and when she’s unable to extract herself from the widening circle of scrutiny, her own suspicions quickly grow. But the neighborhood’s newest addition, Izzy, is determined not to jump to any conclusions—especially since she’s dealing with a crisis of her own.

As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doors—and to ask how well anyone really knows anyone else.

My Thoughts
In Not That I Could Tell it is billed as a thriller of sorts. It's about a group of friends who one night are seated by the fire enjoying some friend time and wine and by the next day, one of them is gone. Kristin the friend in question has left with her twins and as take only what was important to her and has left without a trace. As soon as the police get involved we find out all these things about Kristin her marriage, children and her life behind her closed doors.

Little by little we get to know each of the neighbors and how if any they fit into what has happened with Kristin. But her closest friend and neighbor Clara is the one who seems to be under the microscope as far as the cops are concerned and we see why she is so close to this and how her past reflects the present.

While this read is about Kristin and why she left it is also about the friendships. That’s what I took from this the most, the friendships and to what length you go to, to protect them. Even though they realized they really didn’t know each other there was still a connection as friends and wanting to help one another. This was a good read with a good storyline and the characters were well written. While this wasn’t exactly the read I was expecting it was still a really great book one that’s good to the very end. 


Spotlight: The Secrets We Bury by Stacie Ramey

The Secrets We Bury by Stacie Ramey
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
 Seventeen-and-a-half year old Dylan Taggart is on the run. His family is trying to put him in a school for psychologically challenged students. Dylan realizes he’s had some anger issues and he's a complete loner, aside from the friendship of his cousin Emily, who he calls the other pea in his pod. But he knows the Believers Charter School is not the place for him. As the investigators his mother has hired close in on him, he decides the Appalachian Trail, a hike that takes approximately six months––the exact length of time he needs to stay off her radar until his eighteenth birthday––may be the perfect place to hide out until he can legally drop out of school.

Except Dylan needs people more than he'd like to admit.  And  the biggest surprise is a hiker named Sophie, whom the other hikers call “the ghost.”  Dylan finds a bond with Sophie he's never had before with anyone, and slowly they confide the secrets of what they're each running from.  Trusting someone is scary, but Dylan is about to find out that sometimes love is more important than keeping promises, and some promises are made to be broken. 


Praise for The Secrets We Bury

“A gripping novel that will tug on readers’ heartstrings until the very end.”–Booklist

“A sensitive, funny, and sometimes awkwardly romantic story of survival and self-awareness.”— Kirkus

Other Works by Stacie Ramey

The Sister Pact by Stacie Ramey
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

 Who holds your secrets?

Allie is devastated when her sister commits suicide—and it’s not just because she misses her. Allie feels betrayed. The two made a pact that they’d always be together, in life and in death, but Leah broke her promise and Allie needs to know why.

Her parents hover. Her friends try to support her. And Nick, sweet Nick, keeps calling and flirting. Their sympathy only intensifies her grief.

But the more she clings to Leah, the more secrets surface. Allie’s not sure which is more distressing: discovering the truth behind her sister’s death or facing her new reality without her.

Buy Links for The Sister Pact

The Homecoming by Stacie Ramey
ISBN: 9781492635888
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

They say you can never go home—and John’s about to find out just how true that is.

John’s mother kicked him out of the house when she couldn’t handle his anger, and John’s spent the last few years bouncing between relatives. But after his last scrape with the law, there’s nowhere for him to go but home.

Starting senior year at a new high school and fitting into the family that shut him out is a challenge. And it’s all that John can do to keep from turning back to bad habits. Lacrosse training helps him focus. As does Emily, the girl next door. She’s sweet and smart, and makes him think his heart may finally be healing. Maybe he’s ready to trust again. But tragedy has a way of finding John…and this time, it’s more than just his future on the line.

Buy Links for The Homecoming

About the Author
Stacie Ramey learned to read at a very early age to escape the endless tormenting from her older siblings. She attended the University of Florida where she majored in communication sciences and Penn State where she received a Master of Science degree in Speech Pathology. When she’s not writing, she engages in Netflix wars with her children or beats her husband in Scrabble. She lives in Wellington, Florida with her husband, three children, and two rescue dogs. Visit www.stacieramey.com.

Social Media Links

Excerpt from The Secrets We Bury:
Compulsively stirring my coffee in Nowhereville, New Jersey, I recognize I’m going to have to do a lot of explaining when Emily gets here. Well, assuming she’s figured out my code and picked the right coffee shop.
I look at my burner cell and check the time. 12:02. Not super late. Especially not for my cousin, who is less governed by rules than I am but still hates being tardy.Tardy is her word, not mine. Although I totally approve, because it feels specific to the situation of meeting with someone. I hate nondescript words.
Cell in hand, I’m hit with a new, burning desire. Text Mom. Tell her I’m okay. Tell her that I’m sorry I do these things that only make sense to me. Like that time we went to my great-aunt’s farm. The older cousins wanted to scare us younger ones, so they told us there was a big pit where the previous farm’s horses were buried. We were warned to stay away. So of course, that’s the first place we went. The place was nasty. It smelled. There were thorns everywhere, but that didn’t stop me from digging and going deeper into the pit. They had to call the fire department to have me removed from what was really a sinkhole used as a large animal grave. My brother, Brad, and Emily’s sister, Abby, got in huge trouble. Emily had burns on both hands from trying to pull me out by the rope I had tied around my waist. I was so freaked out about the bones I found, about the smell of death and all the animals buried, that they had to sedate me. Good times.
Man, I was a pain in the ass. Once I set my mind on doing something, I couldn’t veer from whatever stupid thing I’d decided to do. Mom never understood that I couldn’t control my obsessive behavior. But it wasn’t her fault. I am a lot to handle.
I start to type. Mom, I’m sorry. I was always sorry after I’d upset Mom. But for some things, like not following clear-cut rules, rules like Don’t dig where you shouldn’t or Don’t run away from home, saying sorry doesn’t help, so I delete the text.
Emily and I are more like brother and sister than cousins. From the time we were little, we were always together, only interested in what the other one was doing, never paying attention to anyone else. Ignoring the older siblings and cousins, especially.
“We would hang out with other people if anyone else was remotely interesting,” I always said. Emily agreed. Of course.
But this time, I’m not sure she’ll agree with what I’ve got planned, so I have to tell her the right way, which is never easy for me. Words come to me like pictures stored on a hard drive that cycle in front of me constantly. I can’t always control which ones I choose as they spew out of my mouth. They call that verbal impulsivity. It comes along with a slew of other labels doctors have given me over the years. Whatever you call it, for me, choosing the right words is an exquisite sort of pain.
“Be brief,” Dad used to tell me. “Let people catch up to your brain.”
He said that to make me feel better. Like none of my dysfunction was my fault.
The waitress approaches, lifting the coffeepot and her eyebrows.
I shake my head, drink my coffee, and think about how I can explain my plan to Emily in a way she’ll get behind Operation Wild Thing.
The taste of coffee paired with the drizzling rain sends my mind back to a time when our families were on the Cape and everyone was at the beach. Emily and I hung at the house, because I needed some away-from-the-rest-of-them time. A fly buzzed around my head, the sound making me insanely edgy. So edgy, apparently, I was sitting there with my hands over my ears. Maybe even rocking a little. Okay, rocking way too much.
Emily yanked me out of the house by my arm and into the fresh air. We stood on the dock behind Uncle Bill’s house. The sky was overcast, and the breeze kept the gnats and mosquitos away.
I rubbed my shoulder joint. “That used to be attached, you know!”
She punched me in the arm. “The fly is going after the crumbs, not you, Dylan, you big dork.”
“I knew that.” I did. It’s just that buzzing puts me in such a constant state of make-it-stop that I can’t do the simplest thing, like figure out I can walk away. But Emily does. And she gets me.
If I was the kind of person who blushed, I would have blushed then.
It started to drizzle. “Come on,” I said, going around the side of the house. “They’ll be home soon.” I tapped my leg. “Max, we’re going for a walk.”
The rottweiler Dad brought home for me when I was six jumped up from his spot on the grass to join me.
“Wait for me.” Emily ran inside and grabbed a rain jacket—yellow London Fog, because she wanted to be like her mom back then. “I can’t believe with all of the things you hate touching and the things you hate touching you, you don’t mind the rain.”
She was right. I didn’t mind the rain. Never had. It was like nature’s drumming. I was obsessed with drumming. Not actually playing the drums, but listening to them as loud as I possibly could. A therapist had explained I liked the sound because I could feel them before I could hear them. Whatever the reason, they calmed me, for sure. Just like the rain did that day.
Now, a good five years later, sitting in a coffee shop in a tiny town in New Jersey, I wonder if I’ll feel Emily’s presence before I hear her. I sent her an email the other day using the fake account I set up for us before I ran away from home and the alphabet code we used when we were kids.
I have something big to tell you. Huge. Meet me. Next letter. Tell me when and where. But do it soon.
Coffee. 12:00 3 on the list on TLD. You always scare me.
I stare at my coffee. My Dad used to drink his coffee black. “Like my heart,” he always said. The rest of my immediate family uses a dash of cream and definitely no sugar. I like my coffee light and sweet. Is it any wonder we don’t get along?
The waitress appears again. Alice, as her name tag says, refills my cup. I’m supposed to thank her, even though she doesn’t seem to mind our nonverbal exchange. But then she goes and ruins the silence. “You want anything else?”
I shake my head, pour in more cream, and wait for it to swirl around my cup like the thoughts that swirl around my mind. After coffee, that is. Without coffee, I am stuck in a fog of nothingness, like my brain knows it’s supposed to be processing information but just doesn’t feel like it.
Emily always said coffee was going to be my undoing. My Kryptonite or some bullshit. But it’s not like I’m at a loss for things that destroy me. The list is long. Starting with sounds. Like Brenda White’s shoes scraping against the floor of my kindergarten classroom over and over again. Scrape scrape scrape scrape. Pause. Scrape scrape scrrrapppe. Is it any wonder I flipped my shit and hid under the desk? Or Josh Mellon’s click click click of his pen during exams in physics. I could have told him flicking his pen wasn’t going to get him the right answers. Or…
The door opens. I look up. Not Emily.
The refrigerator at the front of the shop hums, and that makes me want to cover my ears, but the best way to deal with unwanted sounds is to tune them out by playing louder ones. I scroll through my playlist: Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin (best band ever). Dad and I agreed about that. I guess I get distracted by listening to the drum solo in “Moby Dick” for the zillionth time, because shoes appear in my field of vision next to my table and stop. Em’s shoes. Running shoes. Since I’m planning the biggest running-away-from-home plan ever, I find that ironic.
Emily puts her raincoat on the back of her chair, giving me a second to acclimate to her presence. Her coat is a navy-blue North Face, because Emily is all about being serious now. Serious as a heart attack, motherfucker. “Hey,” she says.
“Hey, yourself.” I wave. Stiff-handed (my usual).
She punches me in the arm. It’s a trick of hers. The punch floods my body with enough input that I can actually handle being hugged. She leans in. Emily smells like she has since she was five years old: cherry Life Savers, rain, Dial soap. It’s weird to know what soap your cousin uses, but I’m not being creepy. I can literally detect the scent of more than a dozen different brands of soap. It’s awesome to be me.
I wrap my hands around her shoulders and hold for five seconds. That’s the usual amount of time that people who are related to each other hug. I don’t hate it for the first one or two seconds, but by the fourth second, I’m like, Seriously, can we be done? But I let her hold it longer, because I know most human beings don’t mind physical contact for five full seconds. Some even allow seven. Sick bastards.
Emily grabs the biscotti off my plate, the extra one I’d ordered because I knew she’d take mine when she got here. She bites a hunk of it, oblivious to the crumbs she’s sent flying, and says, “You were counting, weren’t you?”
My eyes go to my coffee. “No comment.” I take a drink, slurp on purpose. She laughs. God, it’s great to hear that laugh.
“So, what’s the big emergency?” she asks as she motions for the waitress.
“I never said emergency.”
“You said, ‘Soon.’ That’s definitely heightened language for you.” She puts air quotes around the word heightened. The waitress approaches. Waits.
“You have mochaccino?” Emily asks.
The waitress rolls her eyes, taps her pen on her pad. “We don’t have crappuccinos here. Just real coffee. For people who like coffee.”
“Alice!” the woman in the front of the shop yells, clearly having overheard her.
Alice scowls. “Our frappé machine is down at the moment. May I get you something else?”
“Bring her a double espresso, whipped cream, lots of whipped cream.” My hand palms the sugar packet dispenser. “Don’t worry. We have enough of this to make it palatable.”
Emily nods. “Oh, and a menu.” Then to me. “You look skinny.” She pulls out a wad of cash. Yes, a wad. The bills are all crumpled, and change flies everywhere. “Babysitting money. It’s on me.”
When the waitress’s steps tell me she’s out of earshot, I reach for Emily’s hands, trying to grab the mess of bills sticking out everywhere, trying to contain her chaos. I need her to focus on what I’m saying, so my hands clamp over hers. “I’m going to hike the Appalachian Trail,” I say.
She drops the money on the table. “What?”
“I’ve decided. You can’t talk me out of it.”
The waitress returns, stands, pad perched. I read that as a little hostile, but I’ve no idea why. And like with most human interactions, I really don’t care.
Emily stares at me as if she’s suddenly gone mute, selectively mute, which is one of the other labels those doctors tried to stick on me. I close Emily’s menu, aim my voice at Alice the waitress. “She’s going to need a few minutes.”
Alice huffs and moves on. I point at her moody retreat. “Did she seem a little…?”
Emily stares at me like—I don’t know. Facial expressions? They’re fuzzy for me. Muscular patterns? Those I can read. Like how Emily’s gripping her closed menu like it’s the only stable thing in an insane world. Obviously, she’s angry. Her fingers are turning white because she’s exerting so much pressure with her grip on that innocent menu. I’m the only one who can piss off Emily that much. So she must be mad because of the Appalachian Trail. Got it. So of course I say, “What? It’s totally safe.”
She throws her head in her hands, then looks up. “Sure it is. Why not? Why don’t I just put my life on hold and join you?”
I stir my coffee, only it doesn’t need stirring because I’ve mixed my cream in completely and it’s a nice homogenous blond. “That’s ridiculous. You like your life.” I take a sip, which must really piss her off, because she reaches for my cup, a tactic Emily only resorts to when she’s about to go nuclear. I move my cup out of her reach. “Hold up, psycho.” Then I lean forward. Leaning forward makes you seem earnest. “I have to. It’s my only choice.”
“You could come home,” she says, but she knows I can’t.
The last school they sent me to had a special unit for “emotionally challenged” kids. I only agreed to go there because it was Emily’s school. The teachers and counselors had a big meeting, and they said if I didn’t do well, I’d have to go to a school that had a more “therapeutic environment.” And I guess forcing the faculty to have to evacuate the entire school from the auditorium after losing it during an assembly qualifies as “not doing well.” Yeah. But honestly, me sitting in class with a bunch of kids who are more messed up than I am? Not. Going. To. Happen. Not if it’s up to me. Which it will be in six months when I finally turn eighteen. Which is why I ran away from home to begin with.
I hold her hands again, this time because I need her to believe me. My hands over hers doesn’t make me feel as closed in as if she put hers on mine, but even this brief contact is only possible because it’s her, Emily. I soften my voice, which also indicates concern. “They’re getting closer.” I look into her eyes. “They almost caught me at a coffee shop in New York.”
She nods. She knows Mom’s detectives are pretty motivated. “I told you coffee was your Achilles’ heel.” A skinny tear drips down her cheek, and part of me considers what it means to cry thin tears versus big fat ones. Has anyone done a study on the size of tears in relation to the emotional load they bear? I look away, mostly to contain the smirk I’m sure is on my face since I’m depersonalizing the situation, as usual. She pulls her hands back. Uh-oh. She noticed.
“Damn it, Dylan. Stop playing me.” She sounds sad, and that makes me feel bad.
“I’m sorry,” I whisper.
She stares at me. She can count the number of times on one hand that I’ve said that two-word combination to anyone. Actually, I remember each and every time. Two before this. The last one when it was too late.
I lean back. “I’m not playing you. If I stay here, Mom’s guys will find me. In six months, I can make my own decisions. Do you know how long it takes to hike the Appalachian Trail? Six months. That means something.”
It’s hard for her to argue with Dylan logic. “Okay, that does seem coincidental, but you’ve never hiked before.”
I break out the book I bought about hiking the trail and slide it across the table. “First line, ‘So you’ve never hiked before? No problem.’”
She raises her eyebrows but can’t keep from smiling. “That’s a stupid first line.”
“I thought it was kind of catchy myself.”
“The wilderness isn’t some kid-invented adventure,” she says. “What if something happens to you?”
“It won’t,” I say. Because bad things can’t happen to you after the worst thing already has. “I just need time. And I always considered doing this anyway.”
True. That was a lie. This is the kind of thing Dad and my brother, Brad, and maybe my cousin, Christian, would do, planning for months, needling me because no way I would ever want to join them. “But I feel like it makes sense.”
“You could get lost.”
I almost choke on my biscotti. “It’s a trail.” I trace an imaginary straight line on the table. “I mean, point A to point B.”
“People get lost. They’ve gotten lost on the trail before. There’ve been people—”
“I know. I realize that, but, Em, the thing is, I’m trying to get lost, aren’t I?”
“Only for six months! Not for—”
“I’ll come back. I have to. We’ve got Max’s revenge. You know I wouldn’t miss that.”
Max hated Halloween with a passion. Barked his little head off. So, we’d have an anti-Halloween every November 1. We’d hang out on the floor with him all day, no matter what day of the week it was. Take off school. Cancel all plans and do what the dog liked best. Which was to lounge with us while we watched movies. Usually the Harry Potter ones, which never got old.
“Every November,” she says solemnly. “So, when are you going?”
“The normal time. When most people do.”
She looks at me like I’m confusing her. Or annoying her. Or—
Then she whacks me on the arm with her spoon. “When?”
“Next week. April 15.”
This time, fat tears fall down her face, and she swipes them away fast. Those are the kind of tears that sting. But she knows she can’t argue with me now. That detail was my wild card.
“You’re such a dick.”
“I know, but I’m a dick with a profound sense of irony.”

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