Sunday, October 25, 2020

Book Review and GIVEAWAY - Matrimony, Inc.: From Personal Ads to Swiping Right, a Story of America Looking for Love, by Francesca Beauman (10 winners, ends 11/2}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Marriage ads reached Ohio by the 1840s, and within a decade they were in evidence across the border in Indiana too. In 1852, James Hanes turned to the Richmond Palladium to find “a lady worth a few thousand dollars, of common sense, with a taste for the fine arts, a lover of science, about the medium size, with an open, cheerful countenance, affectionate in disposition, and capable of taking care of a large family.” In the Indiana Herald ten years later, “a young man of correct business habits” was looking for “any young lady of fair intellectual endowments, an ordinary share of beauty, who would not be averse to a personal superintendence of household matters.” He almost—almost—manages to make the offer of becoming his unpaid housekeeper sound appealing.

Whether they’ve been socially acceptable or not, personal ads have always been interesting! Several of the qualities people look for in mates never really seem to change too much.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY - Matrimony, Inc.: From Personal Ads to Swiping Right, a Story of America Looking for Love, by Francesca Beauman (10 winners, ends 11/2}
Have you ever used a dating app or website? Then you have more in common than you know with lonely homesteaders in 18th century New England. At once heartwarming and heartbreaking, Matrimony, Inc. reveals the unifying thread that weaves its way through not just marriage and relationships over the centuries, but American social history itself: advertising for love.

Amazingly, America’s first personal ad appeared in the Boston Evening Post as early as 1759. A “person who flatters himself that he shall not be thought disagreeable” was in search of a “young lady, between the age of eighteen and twenty-three, of a middling stature, brown hair, of good Morals…” As family-arranged marriages fell out of fashion, "Husband Wanted" or "Seeking Wife" ads were soon to be found in every state in the nation.

From the woman in a Wisconsin newspaper who wanted “no brainless dandy or foppish fool” to the man with a glass eye who placed an ad in the New York Times hoping to meet a woman with a glass eye, the many hundreds of personal ads that author Francesca Beauman has uncovered offer an extraordinary glimpse into the history of our hearts’ desires, as well as a unique insight into American life as the frontier was settled and the cities grew. Personal ads played a surprisingly vital role in the West: couple by couple, shy smile by shy smile, letter by letter from a dusty, exhausted miner in California to a bored, frustrated seamstress in Ohio. Get ready for a new perspective on the making of modern America, a hundred words of typesetter’s blurry black ink at a time.

“So anxious are our settlers for wives that they never ask a single lady her age. All they require is teeth,” declared the Dubuque Iowa News in 1838 in a state where men outnumbered women three to one. While the dating pools of 21st century New York, Chicago or San Francisco might not be quite so dentally-fixated, Matrimony Inc. will put idly swiping right on Tinder into fascinating and vividly fresh historical context. What do women look for in a man? What do men look for in a woman? And how has this changed over the past 250 years?

This was an entertaining examination of personal ads through the years. The author’s snark responding to some of the ads was quite amusing. The ads themselves were usually too small and blurry to read, but the excerpts she chose definitely brought the history to life.

Some favorite stories included from the history of personal ads were those of men, women, and couples sometimes using personal ads to target and attract particular victims—usually those with money and few contacts who would check up on them. The stories of some of the crimes they committed, and how they were finally caught, were interesting.

Overall, I’d give this book 3 out of 5 stars. The history was a bit dry in parts, but the author’s voice and sassy humor lightened the tone. This would be a good book for those who enjoy non-fiction and social commentaries.

{click here to purchase}

Becki Bayley has been married for 14 years, and originally met her husband when he attended college with her brother. She sometimes shares pictures of her family on Instagram as PoshBecki.

GIVEAWAY:

10—yes, TEN!—of my lucky readers will win an Advance Reader Copy of Matrimony, Inc.!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Monday, November 2nd, at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be contacted via email the next day, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner(s) will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

Matrimony, Inc., by Francesca Beaumont

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Book Review and GIVEAWAY - You're Pulling My Leg! Junior: The Ultimate Storytelling Game, by Allen Wolf {ends 10/29}

Book review by: Becki Bayley

Tell me about…

a time when a friend surprised you with something.

OR

something you enjoy doing.

OR

someone you think is funny.


Imagine honestly responding to each of these prompts. Or, if the coin toss indicates, telling a convincing but untrue story about the same prompt.

Official synopsis:

Book Review and GIVEAWAY - You're Pulling My Leg! Junior: The Ultimate Storytelling Game, by Allan Wolf {ends 10/29}
You’ll laugh out loud as you and your friends and family try to fool each other with hilarious stories from your lives. After you choose a question from a card, the secret flip of the coin tells you if your answer should be true or made up.

When you hear a story, vote points on if you think they’re telling the truth or pulling your leg. You’ll win points if you’re right but lose them if you’re wrong. Think you can bluff your friends and family? Don’t let them fool you! Score enough points, and you win!

This game was more fun than expected. Most of the prompts are about experiences or stories about other people in the storyteller’s life. Essentially, the storyteller picks a prompt from the card (one card shown above), then flips a coin to determine—for their knowledge only—if they’ll be telling the truth or making up a story (and the rules specify that the whole essence of the story must be false, not just a few key details changed to delete the "truth" of the story).

The kids who played this game with me LOVED it. They’re 9 and 13 years old, and were as entertained by guessing if other stories were true or false as by telling their own stories. In addition to the actual rules for the game, there were also alternatives offered for a timed game, a team game, or playing with coins instead of points, among other options.

Overall, we’d give this book 4 out of 5 stars, and the kids are excited to know when we can play again. Since there is no physical interaction between players, the game would also work well using video-conferencing for those who live far away or are unable to meet in person.

{click here to purchase}

Becki Bayley is a mom of two and a school crossing guard. When she is not reading, she is snacking or posting at http://SweetlyBSquared.com.

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a copy of You're Pulling My Leg! Junior. Winner can also choose if they'd like the Junior edition or the adults edition.

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Thursday, October 29th, 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!

You're Pulling My Leg! Junior: The Ultimate Storytelling Game, by Allen Wolf

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Prospects of a Woman, by Wendy Voorsanger {ends 10/28}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

“Show me how to use it,” she said.

From a stool in the pine grove, Nate explained how to stuff powder into the Hawken and ram a wad of grass down the barrel with a rod, like he’d been shooting his whole life, when she knew he’d spent his childhood in a Cambridge townhouse. His knowledge of rifles ended with stuffing the barrel, so she rolled up her sleeves, setting up targets of pine cones and stickers, imitating the shooting position she’d seen her father use when hunting deer back on the orchard in Concord. She’d grown strong in the West, and handling the shotgun proved easy, even with the kickback. She practiced shooting at the targets and reloading the barrel until her face smeared with gunpowder.

“We need some help,” said Nate, running a hand through his blond hair growing out long.

“I know,” she said, resetting the targets.

“Digging. The two of us won’t do.”

“I know!” she said, irritated at him for explaining like she was dim-witted. “That’s why I’m working on getting us something to eat.”

She threw the small sack of gunpowder over her shoulder and set off into the woods in search of food with Yellow Dog loping behind.

“Be careful, ‘Lizbeth!” he called out.

Historical fiction bringing out a woman’s perspective of the migration to the California gold rush? While there are certainly as many stories as there were prospectors, this one was definitely fascinating.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Prospects of a Woman, by Wendy Voorsanger {ends 10/28}
Elisabeth Parker comes to California from Massachusetts in 1849 with her new husband, Nate, to reunite with her father, who’s struck gold on the American River. But she soon realizes her husband is not the man she thought—and neither is her father, who abandons them shortly after they arrive. As Nate struggles with his sexuality, Elisabeth is forced to confront her preconceived notions of family, love, and opportunity. She finds comfort in corresponding with her childhood friend back home, writer Louisa May Alcott, and spending time in the company of a mysterious Californio. Armed with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance, she sets out to determine her role in building the West, even as she comes to terms with the sacrifices she must make to achieve independence and happiness. A gripping and illuminating window into life in the Old West, Prospects of a Woman is the story of one woman’s passionate quest to carve out a place for herself in the liberal and bewildering society that emerged during the California gold rush frenzy.


Elisabeth Parker honestly isn’t a very likable character. Sometimes that can make the whole book unenjoyable, but in this case, every time she made a choice, there was seldom an obvious better one. Surviving the western frontier in the mid-1800s was not a likable existence in many ways.

The story of Elisabeth Parker’s adventures out west is intriguing and well-written. She quickly has to put aside what she considers her role as a lady, and learn an entirely different skill set for survival. She learns not only how to shoot, how to dig for gold, and modification of her wardrobe to more effectively perform these tasks, she also perfects how to use her femininity to help turn the odds in her favor (without sacrificing her honor), and about the additional rights California provides a woman without the consent of her husband or father. One of the more amusing aspects of the book was the sharing of Miss Parker’s letters to Louisa May Alcott. In her letters, the reader sees what Miss Parker’s dream existence out West would have been (passed off as fact to keep her friend from worrying).

The Prospects of a Woman is a unique and interesting telling of a woman’s struggles to prosper in a whole new world that she previously knew nothing about. I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for anyone with an interest in this time period, or historical fiction in general. 

{click here to purchase - only $9.49 for Kindle currently!}

Becki Bayley appreciates her heated mattress pad, caffeine in the morning, and the convenience of grocery delivery. She also blogs at SweetlyBSquared.com.

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a copy of Prospects of a Woman!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Wednesday, October 28th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be contacted 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!

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Interference, by Brad Parks {ends 10/25}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

“So let me get this straight,” Emmett said, having hurried to Baker Tower at the urging of Beppe Valentino. “This woman and Professor Bronik, they’ve both been infected by this quantum virus, and now she has quantum ESP?”

“I wouldn’t call it ESP,” Beppe said. “She can’t tell what he’s thinking. It’s more, she can feel his presence.”

They were sitting on the sixth floor of the stacks, huddled in two chairs by the window, talking in low voices.

One floor above them, still ensconced in her study carrel, was Sheena Aiyagari, the young woman who wasn’t missing after all.

Reading about quantum physics feels smart. Sometimes something can be written so it is obviously over the reader’s head, or with the assumption that the reader is smart enough to get it. In this case, the descriptions about quantum physics were almost understandable.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Interference, by Brad Parks {ends 10/25}
Quantum physicist Matt Bronik is suffering from strange, violent seizures that medical science seems powerless to explain—much to the consternation of his wife, Brigid.

Matt doesn’t think these fits could be related to his research, which he has always described as benign and esoteric. That, it turns out, is not quite true: Matt has been prodding the mysteries of the quantum universe, with terrible repercussions for his health. And perhaps even for humanity as a whole.

Then, in the midst of another seizure, Matt disappears. When foul play is feared, there is no shortage of suspects. Matt’s research had gained the attention of Chinese competitors, an unscrupulous billionaire, and the Department of Defense, among others.

With Matt’s life in clear danger, Brigid sets out to find him. Will Matt be killed before she reaches him, or could the physics that endangered him actually be used to save his life?

What an unexpected book! While the whole "quantum physics" angle seemed to suggest a lot of sci-fi to the story line, there were several old-fashioned twists and turns from human interactions and motivations. Without spoiling any surprises, don’t think you need to enjoy scientific theories to enjoy this book.

The characters were multi-faceted and believable. A lot of interactions were influenced by the fact that the main character’s wife was hard of hearing. Imagine trying to find your way through crisis situations while relying on other people acknowledging your need for additional accommodations, or by reading their lips. Her stress was definitely understandable. The lead missing persons detective also seemed emotionally involved to a great degree, as his wife had recently died. His compassion for the situation of the main character and his wife came through vividly.

Overall, I’d give this book 4 out of 5 stars. The plot and its developments were intricate and unexpected. The characters had a depth and dimension that really compelled the reader to keep going and find out how it all would end.

{click here to purchase - currently free for Kindle Unlimited!}

Becki Bayley is a Gemini who enjoys reading (of course), playing Candy Crush and Nonograms, and watching corny movies. She also enjoys keeping up with other book bloggers through her personal blog, SweetlyBSquared.com.

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a copy of Interference!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Sunday, October 25th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be emailed the next day and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!


Interference, by Brad Parks

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Unspoken, by Ian K. Smith {ends 10/24}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

JuJu Davis had been located at another girlfriend’s home in Grand Crossing, a similarly tough neighborhood just north of Chatham. When the tactical unit had breached the small apartment, they’d found him stretched out on the sofa, eating deep dish and playing a video game. The girlfriend was taking a shower before her afternoon shirt at Walmart. He had been apprehended without incident and brought down to the Second District at Fifty-First and Wentworth. I stood with Burke as two of his men tag-teamed the interrogation. JuJu wore a black tracksuit with crisp white sneakers. His hair had been neatly braided tight to his scalp. He was a large man with wide shoulders and a massive head. The back of both of his hands had been tatted. He sat nonchalantly across from officers Novack and Adkins.

“How do you know Chopper McNair?” Officer Novack asked. He was the smaller of the two, with a muscular build that bulged out of his Kevlar vest. His dark hair had been boxed into a buzz cut. Typically, in these interrogations, the aggressive partner took the first round.

“I don’t know him,” JuJu said. “Never heard of ‘im. Never seen ‘im. Don’t know who the fuck you talkin’ about.”

There’s something to be said for doing the right thing. Ashe Cayne is now a private investigator instead of a detective with the Chicago Police Department so he can decide and act for what is right, instead of having to do what his bosses tell him.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Unspoken, by Ian K. Smith {ends 10/24}
Former Chicago detective Ashe Cayne is desperate for redemption. After refusing to participate in a police department cover-up involving the death of a young black man, Cayne is pushed out of the force. But he won’t sit quietly on the sidelines: he’s compelled to fight for justice as a private investigator…even if it means putting himself in jeopardy.

When a young woman, Tinsley Gerrigan, goes missing, her wealthy parents from the North Shore hire Cayne to find her. As Cayne looks into her life and past, he uncovers secrets Tinsley’s been hiding from her family. Cayne fears he may never find Tinsley alive.

His worries spike when Tinsley’s boyfriend is found dead—another black man murdered on the tough Chicago streets. Cayne must navigate his complicated relationships within the Chicago PD, leveraging his contacts and police skills to find the missing young woman, see justice done, and earn his redemption.

Ashe Cayne is a likable hero. He was a Chicago police detective and luckily still has a few friends with the department. They prove quite handy in his new role as a private investigator. But even working for himself, he still has an unquenchable desire for justice, even when he’s no longer getting paid. While he expects that the original case of finding the Gerrigan’s rich daughter is no longer really an issue, it’s already unraveled a few more threads, and he needs to fix those for his own peace of mind.

There was another random story line that didn’t seem to fit in as well. Cayne was previously aware of a case with an abusive Catholic priest with a trail of victims. While the Church told him he was no longer a Father, Cayne finds out he’s still preaching and up to his old tricks. His story line never really intersected with the missing person’s case, but it did show a bit more of Cayne’s thirst for justice.

Overall, I’d give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars and probably enjoy reading the next one. Sometimes a crime solved within a few hundred pages can be very satisfying in a world of chaos.

{click here to purchase - currently FREE for Kindle Unlimited!}

Becki Bayley remembers when Netflix mailed you DVDs and ATMs gave $10 bills. She is still able to walk up and down the stairs at her house, though. Check out more of her book reviews and other adventures at SweetlyBSquared.com.

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a copy of The Unspoken!

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

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

The Unspoken, by Ian K. Smith

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Love Proof, by Madeleine Henry {ends 10/22}

Sophie tugged the dangling string of her desk lamp until daylight faded. She kept working until, finally, deep in the black belly of night, she succeeded in converting every description of motion into one independent of time. She reclined against the straight back of her chair. She'd felt Jake with her for years. She'd seen them together every day. But right then, as she stared at the last page forming incontrovertible proof of block theory, Sophie saw all of him. She saw not just one moment, but all of their time together suspended around her because all of it was happening now. 

I haven't been reading a lot this summer (mostly just been watching TV, actually), but a new Madeleine Henry book crossed my desk (Kindle), I knew I definitely wanted to read it ASAP. I reviewed her first novel Breathe In, Cash Out last year, and really liked it, so it was unsurprising that I really liked this one as well.

Official synopsis:

<a class="e-widget no-button" href="https://gleam.io/YOsmE/the-love-proof-by-madeleine-henry" rel="nofollow">The Love Proof, by Madeleine Henry</a> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://widget.gleamjs.io/e.js" async="true"></script>
A brilliant physicist studying the nature of time embarks on a journey to prove that those we love are always connected to us, leading to surprising revelations in this fresh and unique love story.

Sophie Jones is a physics prodigy on track to unlock the secrets of the universe. But when she meets Jake Kristopher during their first week at Yale they instantly feel a deep connection, as if they’ve known each other before. Quickly, they become a couple. Slowly, their love lures Sophie away from school.

When a shocking development forces Sophie into a new reality, she returns to physics to make sense of her world. She grapples with life’s big questions, including how to cope with unexpected change and loss. Inspired by her connection with Jake, Sophie throws herself into her studies, determined to prove that true loves belong together in all realities.

Spanning decades,
The Love Proof is an unusual love story about lasting connection, time, and intuition. It explores the course that perfect love can take between imperfect people, and urges us to listen to our hearts rather than our heads.

I literally whipped through this book in about 1 to 1.5 days, because I wanted to know what happened to the characters. Love stories that span decades are unusual; usually there is a meet-cute, happiness, then some sort of drama, and then the characters get back together again—this was not the exact case here.

Sophie meets Jake when they are both freshmen at Yale. Jake can tell that Sophie is unique, like him—they both have unique minds, and are able to fully concentrate on their studies. They date for four years, until graduation, and Sophie is thinking they will be together forever.

To say anymore would be to give spoilers, so I will leave my synopsis at that. Sophie now finds herself with a lot of time on her hands, and she delves back into her physics work, trying to prove something called "block theory" (basically that all time is relative, and things that happened in the past are happening concurrently as we speak). 

I really loved this book, except that I thought the ending could have been expanded a bit; otherwise, it would have been a 5 out of 5 star book for me, which I don't often give.

Movie version picks:
  • young Sophie Jones: Saiorse Ronan - it's mentioned that she's blonde, I believe.
  • young Jake Kristopher: Ansel Elgort, Daniel Radcliffe, Nicholas Hoult, or Logan Lerman. 
  • middle-aged Jake Kristopher: Sam Page (from The Bold Type), although they might have to age him a bit.
  • middle-aged Sophie Jones: Sandra Bullock or Marisa Tomei (but would have to dye their hair blonde).

4.5 stars out of 5.

{click here to pre-order - it will be out on February 9, 2021}

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a copy of The Love Proof!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Thursday, October 22nd, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be emailed the next day and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

The Love Proof, by Madeleine Henry

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Book Review and GIVEAWAY - Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand my Grandfather's Nazi Past, by Gabrielle Robinson {ends 10/21}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Berlin had fallen, but the fighting continued. As Api moved between the bunker and the clinic, he still saw plenty of violence. On Tuesday, May 1, he wrote hastily in his diary, often crossing out lines because he was too exhausted to find the right words. “Toward 1:30 a.m., terrible carpet bombing. Our quarter is burning on all sides and on all ends. Nowhere are the streets passable because of rubble, smoke, and flames. We are imprisoned by the fire.” A little later, he voiced his anger and frustration: “And the executioners in their bunkers,” as he called the Nazi leadership, “criminals!! Rome, Milano, and other foreign cities were given up to spare them, and they allow their own people to perish like dogs with hunger and fire and fratricide. The houses already are looted by civilians or tramps. Several times a day we have to destroy weapons and munitions, which our own troops drop off by our building, since we have no communication with any department.” Api was referring to one of the first orders the Soviets put out, that all weapons had to be turned in immediately. He even gave up his old ornamental sword from World War I.

When Gabrielle Robinson found her grandfather’s diaries from his time in Berlin at the end of World War II, she was excited to learn more about the kind man who helped raise her. She re-examined whether to share, and then how to share this information when she discovered he was also a member of the Nazi party.

Official synopsis:
Book Review - Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand my Grandfather's Nazi Past, by Gabrielle Robinson
After her mother’s death, Gabrielle Robinson found two diaries her grandfather had kept while serving as doctor during the fall of Berlin 1945. He recorded his daily struggle to survive in the ruined city where little could be done for the wounded without water, light, and medications. But then the diaries revealed something that hit Robinson like a punch to the gut: Api, her beloved grandfather, had been a Nazi.

Robinson juxtaposes her grandfather’s harrowing account with her memories of his loving protection after the war and raises disturbing questions about the political responsibility we all carry as individuals. Moving and provocative, Api’s Berlin Diaries offers a firsthand and personal perspective on the far-reaching aftershocks of the Third Reich.


As the author knew before she started writing her grandfather’s story, this book spent equal time answering questions about German’s lives at the end of the war, and causing everyone to question their thoughts on good vs evil and contemplating carefully if a German citizen who was a member of the Nazi party was complicit in party’s atrocities.

The story is told beautifully, including snippets from Api’s diaries, filling in the blanks with how Api probably spent his days, and quotes and excerpts from books researched about the same time period. The author presents a well-rounded emotional journey of Api’s likely experiences at the end of the war and during the occupation immediately following.

Overall, I’d give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars. So many stories have been told of people in their varied roles throughout World War II. This feels like a heartbreaking, average story of a man who joined the Nazi party as many of his contemporaries did, but never displayed anything but compassion and a desire to continue his contributions to those in the community around him. It is a unique story for those who enjoy World War II biographies and memoirs. 

{click here to purchase}

Becki Bayley is a wife and mother who enjoys reading, struggle snuggles with her two black cats, and consuming salty snack foods and Cherry Coke. She also posts on Instagram as PoshBecki.

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a copy of Api's Berlin Diaries!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Wednesday, October 21st, 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!

Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand my Grandfather's Nazi Past, by Gabrielle Robinson

Monday, October 5, 2020

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Girl Beneath the Sea, by Andrew Mayne {ends 10/12}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Solar and I exchange few words as he navigates the canals to an older residential neighborhood in a suburb of Fort Lauderdale. We pass a marine-patrol boat, and I casually wave and receive one in return. It would seem the arriving police never saw us leave.

I’m still trying to figure George Solar out. His interest in the case is suspicious. Either he’s after the money, or he’s really a retired lawman vigilante trying to right unfinished business.

The latter I find hard to believe. Sure, I could be looked upon as a vigilante of sorts, but that’s only because my life is on the line.

Or is it?

This is the first book in a new series about an Underwater Investigation Unit formed to solve the crimes in this book. Sloan McPherson and George Solar are ready to solve crimes, primarily with clues found deep underwater.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Girl Beneath the Sea, by Andrew Mayne {ends 10/12}
Coming from scandalous Florida treasure hunters and drug smugglers, Sloan McPherson is forging her own path, for herself and for her daughter, out from under her family’s shadow. An auxiliary officer for Lauderdale Shores PD, she’s the go-to diver for evidence recovery. Then Sloan finds a fresh kill floating in a canal—a woman whose murky history collides with Sloan’s. Their troubling ties are making Sloan less a potential witness than a suspect. And her colleagues aren’t the only ones following every move she makes. So is the killer.

Stalked by an assassin, pitted against a ruthless cartel searching for a lost fortune, and under watch within her ranks, Sloan has only one ally: the legendary DEA agent who put Sloan’s uncle behind bars. He knows just how deep corruption runs—and the kind of danger Sloan is in. To stay alive, Sloan must stay one step ahead of her enemies—both known and unknown—and a growing conspiracy designed to pull her under.


A good series really needs good characters. Sloan McPherson is quirky and likable from the start. She follows her own rules (while always putting her daughter first) and is independent even at her part-time job as a police diver. Add this to her family’s reputation of not always following the law and it means she sometimes clashes with those in authority. She also has learned that even those who are supposed to look out for her don’t always have her best interests at heart.

When she meets up with George Solar, all she can think about is watching him in a courtroom years ago, testifying against her uncle. She’ll have to learn more about his history and factor in her own experiences with him in order to decide whether to trust him for help with her situation. He seems like he may be the only one who can effectively help her navigate the chaotic case she’s stumbled into.

These two main characters, and their supporting cast, lead us into a whole new division of law enforcement - the Underwater Investigation Unit. I’d give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It is a strong start for a potentially great series to follow. I’d recommend it for those who enjoy police procedurals and crime novels.

{click here to purchase - currently FREE for Kindle Unlimited!}

Becki Bayley is getting through 2020 by immersing herself in fiction. Or even other peoples’ stories. Find more of what she’s read lately at SweetlyBSquared.com.

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a copy of The Girl Beneath the Sea!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Monday, October 12th, 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 Girl Beneath the Sea, by Andrew Mayne

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: A Perfect 10: The Truth About Things I'm Not and Never Will Be, by Heather Land {ends 10/11}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

There’s a certain entitlement that you carry with you when you have a little bit of age under your belt. People give you more grace to say and do what you want. You aren’t afraid to make decisions, others’ opinions of you carry less importance, and if you are lucky, you have a little bit of a nest egg to spend on yourself and others. I hope that my biggest goal isn’t vanity. Wasting time worrying about wrinkles instead of character. Why can’t we handle them both? Take care of our bodies so that we feel good but also focus on making others feel good. I don’t think it is one or the other. I think I will do both.

Heather Land has segued her "I ain’t doin it" viral video into music cds, a comedy tour, and now books. This is the second book she’s written.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: A Perfect 10: The Truth About Things I'm Not and Never Will Be, by Heather Land {ends 10/11}
A popular social media comedian, Heather Land’s reach includes more than 107 million engaged fans and followers who fill theaters at her stand-up events around the country, and who also fell in love with her first book
I Ain’t Doin’ It.

With her trademark Southern charm and sassy yet totally relatable tone, Heather shines a light on those ridiculous moments in our lives that also have the ability to teach us about ourselves. Whether she’s joking about her crafting habit, revealing the hard truths of divorce, ranting about the challenges of being a single parent of teenagers, or getting real at the class reunion, Heather’s message is that the more authentic we are, the more we connect with others. Heather hilariously encourages you to lighten up and focus on what’s really important in life. Like a laughter-filled conversation with an old friend, A Perfect 10 is a great gift to give to others or yourself.

Heather Land has a non-hurtful brand of comedy that is mostly pointing fun at herself and her life. She knows why she does some ridiculous things the same way they’ve always been done, but she plays along. Unfortunately, some of the names she dropped in regards to her retail therapy and other celebrities she knows were unfamiliar. Probably those in her regular audience would have understood the references.

Her life hasn’t been easy, and she’s not afraid to tell how her humor has helped her navigate these circumstances. Her positive attitude, Christian faith and no-nonsense advice sounded reasonable and most likely on point for those in similar situations. Overall, I’d give this book 2.5 out of 5 stars. I’d recommend it for women in their late 30's or early 40's who may have similar life experiences to those of the author.

{click here to pre-order - will be released on Tuesday, October 6th)

Becki Bayley is a wife, mother, and reader. When she’s not working for those titles, she’s probably shaking trees and chasing bees on Animal Crossing - New Horizons. Check out other reviews she’s done at SweetlyBSquared.com.

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a copy of A Perfect 10!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Sunday, October 11th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be contacted 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!

A Perfect 10: The Truth About Things I'm Not and Never Will Be, by Heather Land

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