Monday, August 27, 2018

Quick Pick book review: Ain't She a Peach, by Molly Harper (Southern Eclectic #2)

  • Opening lines: Frankie McCready carefully dusted Maybelline blush in Light Rose on the curve of Euola Buckinerny's check.

    "Now, Miss Eula, I know you've never been one for makeup. You've always been blessed with such a nice complexion, you've never needed it," Frankie murmured over the strains of the Mount Olive Gospel Singers' rendition of "How Great Thou Art." She liked to play her customers' favorite music in the background while she made them up, so they would feel at home. "But every now and then, a girl needs some help from a good foundation and blush."
  • Reason I picked up the book: It looked like an interesting chick lit novel, with a twist - the main character, although young, is a coroner. 
  • And what's this book about?
  • An Atlanta ex-cop comes to sleepy Lake Sackett, Georgia, seeking peace and quiet—but he hasn’t bargained on falling for Frankie, the cutest coroner he’s ever met.

    Frankie McCready talks to dead people. Not like a ghost whisperer or anything—but it seems rude to embalm them and not at least say hello.

    Fortunately, at the McCready Family Funeral Home & Bait Shop, Frankie’s eccentricities fit right in. Lake Sackett’s embalmer and county coroner, Frankie’s goth styling and passion for nerd culture mean she’s not your typical Southern girl, but the McCreadys are hardly your typical Southern family. Led by Great-Aunt Tootie, the gambling, boozing, dog-collecting matriarch of the family, everyone looks out for one another—which usually means getting up in everyone else’s business.

    Maybe that’s why Frankie is so fascinated by new sheriff Eric Linden...a recent transplant from Atlanta, he sees a homicide in every hunting accident or boat crash, which seems a little paranoid for this sleepy tourist town. What’s he so worried about? And what kind of cop can get a job with the Atlanta PD but can’t stand to look at a dead body?

    Frankie has other questions that need answering first—namely, who’s behind the recent break-in attempts at the funeral home, and how can she stop them? This one really does seem like a job for the sheriff—and as Frankie and Eric do their best Scooby-Doo impressions to catch their man, they get closer to spilling some secrets they thought were buried forever.
    • Recommended for: Anyone who enjoys chick lit or a good romance novel.
      • Favorite paragraph: "Um, I really appreciate this new level of emotional openness between us, but maybe you shouldn't touch Mr. Watts like that," Frankie said, timidly gesturing to the table he was leaning on.

        The sheriff turned, saw the covered body on the table, and stumbled away, dragging the sheet with him in his haste. The barest hint of Benjoe Watts' gray hair became visible. And then Eric Linden did the last thing Frankie would have expected.

        His eyes rolled up like window shades and he fainted dead away on the tile floor.
        • Something to know: This is book #2 in the Southern Eclectic series but each of them focuses on a different character, so it's readable as a standalone novel as well. I actually have book #1, Sweet Tea and Sympathy, for reviewing, but haven't read it yet; it focuses on Margot, Frankie's cousin.
        • What I would have changed: Not sure.
        • Overall rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
        • Where can I find this book? Click here to purchase on Amazon.
        *Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

        Saturday, August 25, 2018

        Book Review: I Will Never Leave You, by S.M. Thayer

        Guest review by: Becki Bayley

        TRISH

        This morning, I gulped two Valiums as I whipped up the breakfast tray of James’s hangover remedies. Yesterday, after returning from Laurel’s maternity suite, I met with my internist. I didn’t want to be like my mother and fall into depression in the face of James’s affair. Hopping onto the doctor’s examination table, I unveiled my troubles to him, letting him know depression ran in my family along my mother’s line. He put a stethoscope to my chest, the cool metal bell of that instrument causing me to shiver, and slipped a rubberized belt around my arm, pumping it up to gauge my blood pressure. Physically, nothing was wrong with me, and yet, as a precaution, he scribbled a Valium prescription for me. I was skeptical. What were the possible side effects? He told me about the sleepiness it induces, the difficulty in coordination some people experience. “Is that all?” I asked.

        It was fun to get inside the head of a character who was so filthy rich that she never had to wonder how to pay for anything—literally anything—she wanted. Unfortunately, in I Will Never Leave You, Trish didn’t use her financial power for good. While we usually have sympathy for a woman scorned, this spoiled woman made it difficult to sympathize with her.

        Official synopsis:
        Book Review: I Will Never Leave You, by S.M. Thayer
        Banking heiress Trish and her husband, James, seem to have it all, from a lavish lifestyle to a historic mansion in the nation’s capital. The only thing that’s missing to make their family complete is a baby, so when Trish holds Anne Elise in her arms for the first time, it’s no surprise that she falls deeply in love. There’s just one problem: Trish isn’t the mother.

        The baby belongs to Laurel, James’s young mistress. And more than that, James and Laurel want to start a new life together—despite an ironclad prenup standing in their way. When Trish becomes dangerously obsessed with making Laurel’s baby her own, the lovers’ plan to break James’s marriage quickly goes awry. How far is each of them willing to go for happiness?

        The telling of this story was perfect. The viewpoint changed between the wife, the man, and the mistress. The wife was ridiculously spoiled, the man was always hustling to have everyone believe he was who he said he was, and the mistress was young and quirky. I kept reading to see how it would all work out, but I didn’t get a solid ‘thriller’ vibe from this book. The characters were a bit too outlandish to be scary. I chuckled a few times at some of the cute turns-of-phrase from the mistress, and the sometimes ridiculous conclusions the wife drew in her drug-induced haze.

        I do have to say, since I’m a mother of two children who were breastfed, that some of the hospital and breastfeeding stories with the newborn were nothing close to an average experience. While it didn’t have any real influence on the plot, I would expect a book with a lactation consultant as a character to hopefully consult with one regarding the breastfeeding behavior of the mother and the baby.

        Overall, I’d give this book 3 out of 5 stars. It was definitely a page-turner, as I wanted to find out what was happening next. The ending was a bit of a cliffhanger, but not enough to lead to a sequel. I’d recommend this book for a fun weekend read that doesn’t require a lot of focus.

        I Will Never Leave You will be available in stores and online on September 1, 2018.
        {click here to purchase}

        Becki Bayley has spent the last two days just reading, tending her flowers, and talking to her fish. She also blogs sporadically at SweetlyBSquared.com for the last 15 years or so.

        Monday, August 20, 2018

        Book Review and GIVEAWAY: All This I Will Give to You, by Dolores Redondo {ends 8/27}

        Guest review by: Becki Bayley

        “Look, Manuel – may I call you Manuel? I always advise my clients to be candid and aboveboard, especially with their spouses. After all, their spouses share their lives, and spouses are those most affected by bereavement. Àlvaro’s case was no exception. I’m not the person to judge the reasons or guess the motivations that drove him to act as he did. I’m simply the messenger, and I accept the fact that what I’m going to say isn’t going to win me any points with you. But this is my duty. I made a promise to Àlvaro, and I will carry it out in every detail.” After a dramatic pause he continues. “Àlvaro Muñiz de Dàvila had been the Marquis of Santo Tomè for the past three years, since the death of his father, the previous marquis. This title is one of the oldest in Galicia. His family’s estate is only a few miles from the site of the accident, and although I wasn’t aware he was here, I can vouch to you that he visited regularly and was conscientious in attending to his obligations.”

        Manuel found each successive statement in this account more absurd than the last. He failed to suppress a sneer. “You’re putting me on!”

        “I assure you every word I’ve said is true, and I stand ready to provide proof and documentation to corroborate any part of it.”

        Manuel looked back and forth between Griñan and the security guard down the hall. He felt extremely jittery. “So you’re telling me my husband was an aristocrat – what was it you said, a marquis? With an estate and land holdings, and a family I’ve never heard of?” His tone became brutally sarcastic. “All that’s left now is for you to say he had a wife and children.”


        The first thing I thought when I saw All This I Will Give to You by Dolores Redondo was, “WHOA – that’s a big book!” Haha ... but then I read a bit about the author and was quickly intrigued. She also wrote The Baztàn Trilogy, a successful crime series set in the Basque Pyrenees, which has sold more than 1.5 million copies in Spanish, and has been translated into more than thirty-five languages. All This I Will Give to You is a stand-alone thriller that has been optioned for feature film (I do love a book and movie tie-in!) and television development.

        Official synopsis:
        Book Review and GIVEAWAY: All This I Will Give to You, by Dolores Redondo
        When novelist Manuel Ortigosa learns that his husband, Álvaro, has been killed in a car crash, it comes as a devastating shock. It won’t be the last. He’s now arrived in Galicia. It’s where Álvaro died. It’s where the case has already been quickly closed as a tragic accident. It’s also where Álvaro hid his secrets.

        The man to whom Manuel was married for fifteen years was not the unassuming man he knew.

        Álvaro’s trail leads Manuel deep into one of Spain’s most powerful and guarded families. Behind the walls of their forbidding estate, Manuel is nothing but an unwelcome and dangerous intruder. Then he finds two allies: a stubbornly suspicious police lieutenant and Álvaro’s old friend—and private confessor—from seminary school. Together they’re collecting the pieces of Álvaro’s past, his double life, and his mysterious death.

        But in the shadows of nobility and privilege, Manuel is about to unravel a web of corruption and deception that could be as fatal a trap for him as it was for the man he loved.


        While I’ve read other books with hidden lives and identities, none has been accomplished, justified, and explained as well as All This I Will Give to You.

        After being married for fifteen years, Manuel receives an unfortunate police visit during which he is informed that his husband has died in a traffic accident. As if that isn’t shocking enough, the accident has occurred far from where he thought his husband was traveling to for a business trip. This is just the beginning of the surprises for Manuel. Without knowing who to trust, he’s left questioning the most important part of his life, while learning about Àlvaro’s life before they met. Àlvaro’s family, who he told Manuel he had nothing to do with, is the key to finding out what happened to Àlvaro and why.

        A big book is a big commitment, and as I read, I considered whether this could have been a shorter book, or even broken into several books. For me, I decided it’s perfect as is. The author explains each step of the mystery and Àlvaro’s life perfectly. Less detail would have felt less sincere, and there are no good breaking points as the story moves toward its conclusion. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars, and may check out the author’s other translated books when I have some free time.

        All This I Will Give to You will be in stores and online on September 1, 2018 - click here to pre-order.

        Becki Bayley knows the difference between its and it’s, here and hear, and you’re, your, and yore. Usually. She’s been blogging at SweetlyBSquared.com for more than 15 years.

        GIVEAWAY:

        One of my lucky readers will win a hardcover copy of All That I Will Give to You!

        Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Monday, August 27th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be notified the next day via email, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

        U.S. residents only, please.

        Good luck!

        All This I Will Give To You, by Delores Redondo

        Wednesday, August 15, 2018

        BOOK GIVEAWAY: The Tell, by Linda I. Meyers {ends 8/22}

        Linda I. Meyers' debut book, The Tell, was released on June 5th. One of my lucky readers now has the chance to win a copy!

        About the book:
        BOOK GIVEAWAY: The Tell, by Linda I. Meyers
        Linda I. Meyers was twenty-eight and the mother of three little boys when her mother, after a lifetime of threats, killed herself. Staggered by conflicting feelings of relief and remorse, Linda believed that the best way to give meaning to her mother’s death was to make changes to her own life. Bolstered by the women’s movement of the seventies, she left her marriage, went to college, started a successful family acting business, and established a fulfilling career.

        Written with irony and humor and sprinkled with Yiddish,
        The Tell is one woman’s inspirational story of before and after, and ultimately of emancipation and purpose.

        About the author:
        Linda I. Meyers was 28 and the mother of three young boys when her mother, after a lifetime of threats, took her own life. Staggered by conflicting feelings of relief and remorse, Meyers believed that the best way to give meaning to her mother’s death was to make changes to her own life. Bolstered by the women’s movement of the ‘70s, she left her marriage, went to college and received her Psy.D., raised a family, and established a fulfilling career.

        Written with irony and humor and sprinkled with Yiddish, “The Tell” is one woman’s inspirational story of before and after, and ultimately of emancipation and purpose. With stories ranging from witty to heartbreaking, “The Tell” showcases Meyers’ talent as a gifted storyteller. She chronicles her experience coming of age in a dysfunctional Jewish family during the ‘40s and ‘50s, her summer romance with a boy who grew up to be fashion designer Ralph Lauren, the rise of feminism, and running a family acting business that led to her son landing a memorable role as young Alvy Singer in Woody Allen’s Academy Award-winning movie “Annie Hall.”

        BOOK GIVEAWAY: The Tell, by Linda I. Meyers
        Linda I. Meyers
        “Women of any age,” Meyers says, “who’ve struggled to overcome the restrictions of their generation, or the disappointments of their upbringing will find The Tell to be a funny, touching and hopefully inspiring read.”

        Linda I. Meyers is a psychologist and psychoanalyst in New York City and Princeton, N.J., who has been published in professional and academic journals. Two chapters from her debut memoir were published in 2016 — “The Flowers,” a top-five finalist in Alligator Juniper’s annual contest in creative nonfiction, and “The Spring Line” in Post Road.

        GIVEAWAY:

        One of my readers will win a copy of The Tell - enter below to win.

        Giveaway will end on Wednesday, August 22nd, at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be notified via email the next day, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

        U.S. residents only, please.

        Good luck!

        The Tell, by Linda I. Meyers

        Monday, August 6, 2018

        Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Simple Wild, by K.A Tucker {ends 8/13}

        November 15, 1993
        Anchorage, Alaska

        He settles those sharp gray eyes on me, the ones that ensnared me four years ago. If I'd had any idea how much heartache the ruggedly handsome man who sat down next to me at a bar and ordered a bottle of Budweiser would cause ... "So, I guess I'll see you when you're ready to come home." There's a rare touch of hoarseness to his voice, and it nearly breaks my resolve.

        But I hang onto that one word to give me strength: "home."

        That's just it: Alaska will never feel like my home. Either he truly doesn't see that or he simply doesn't want to.

        I swallow against the painful ball in my throat. "Calla, say goodbye to your daddy."

        "Bye-bye, Da-da." She scrunches her mitten-clad hand and gives him a toothy grin.

        Obliviously happy as her mother's heart breaks.

        I'm a huge K.A. Tucker fan, so I had a feeling I would like this book too. To be honest, I had completely forgotten that I signed up for this book tour for it ... so I started reading the book last Monday, and I finished it Tuesday night—which for me, nowadays, is a super quick turnaround, and shows how much I enjoyed this novel.

        Official synopsis:
        Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Simple Wild, by K.A Tucker
        Calla Fletcher wasn't even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.

        She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this rugged environment, Jonah—the unkempt, obnoxious, and proud Alaskan pilot who helps keep her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.

        Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. Soon, she finds herself forming an unexpected bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.


        I've never been to Alaska, and now I want to visit, although maybe somewhere like Anchorage versus a more rural town like Bangor (which isn't a real town, but the author has said it's based on Barrow, Alaska).

        Calla goes to Alaska to visit her father, whom she hasn't seen since she was about two years old, and whom she hasn't talked to on the phone since she was 12. Her father is dying of cancer and this might be her last time to see him. Calla, her mother, and her stepfather currently live in Toronto, where Calla enjoys all of the perks of city life - weekly manicures and hair blowouts, going out to the clubs with her friends, etc. So Bangor, Alaska is quite an eye-opener for her.

        She soon meets Jonah, whom she dubs the "angry yeti," and later (unsurprisingly) falls for him, thus starting a narrative close to the one her mother had with her father—Canadian city girl falls for an Alaskan "sky cowboy" (pilot).

        I really liked the chemistry between Jonah and Calla here—their back-and-forth banter was fun to read. Obviously Calla is in town for a not-so-happy purpose (her father is dying of lung cancer), but Jonah proves to be an interesting distraction ... and later a sad one, when she realizes she won't be staying in Alaska forever.

        I'd recommend this book to fans of K.A. Tucker's other works, and/or for people who like a good YA (or New Adult, really) love story, with a dash of "real life" thrown in, too.

        The Simple Wild will be in stores and online tomorrow, August 7, 2018.
        4.5 stars out of 5.

        {click here to purchase}

        *Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

        GIVEAWAY:

        One of my lucky readers will win a copy of The Simple Wild!

        Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Monday, August 13th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be notified via email the next day, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

        U.S. residents only, please.

        Good luck!

        The Simple Wild, by K.A. Tucker

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