Thursday, May 6, 2021

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: It Had to Be You, by Georgia Clark {ends 5/13}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

As summer spread itself sunscreen-thick over New York, Zia Ruiz and Clay Russo started seeing each other. In secret. As Clay explained, as soon as the press knew they were dating, they’d be hounded and Zia’s personal life would no longer be personal. Trolls would come out of the woodwork. Her online footprint would be mined for information. “They’d be obsessed with getting a photo of us,” he said, unable to hide his annoyance. Privacy gave the relationship space to breathe, and grow, he said. And they’d have lots of time together, since the job in Mozambique unexpectedly fell through. The project lost funding. Zia expected to feel disappointed. Instead, she felt relieved. Excited. There’d be other jobs, and her feelings for Clay were growing.

If they were out late and Clay’s security gave the all clear, occasionally Clay would stay over at Darlene’s. Darlene had sworn to take-it-to-the-grave secrecy, as had Zach, who’d popped by one night and ended up bonding with the actor over a shared love of nineties British rock bands. (“That guy seriously has the world’s best body,” Zach told the two women. “I can say that because I’m comfortable in my manhood.”) But usually, it was safer, and more convenient, to stay at Clay’s penthouse apartment.


This book had relatable characters for everyone. New York City is truly portrayed as a great melting pot, with lots of interesting and likable people.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: It Had to Be You, by Georgia Clark {ends 5/13}
For the past twenty years, Liv and Eliot Goldenhorn have run In Love in New York, Brooklyn’s beloved wedding-planning business. When Eliot dies unexpectedly, he even more unexpectedly leaves half of the business to his younger, blonder girlfriend, Savannah. Liv and Savannah are not a match made in heaven, to say the least. But what starts as a personal and professional nightmare transforms into something even savvy, cynical Liv Goldenhorn couldn’t begin to imagine.

It
Had to Be You cleverly unites Liv, Savannah, and couples as diverse and unique as New York City itself, in a joyous Love-Actually-style braided narrative. The result is a smart, modern love story that truly speaks to our times. Second chances, secret romance, and steamy soul mates are front and center in this sexy, tender, and utterly charming rom-com.

This was a delightful book of love stories of all sorts, and somehow at least this reader was cheering for them all to find their happily-ever-after. When surprisingly cynical wedding planner Liv loses her husband—who is also her partner in their wedding planner business—she thinks her life will just be her and her son from there on out. But the girlfriend she didn’t know her husband had, until his unexpected death, shows up at her door, ready to enthusiastically take Eliot’s place as Liv’s new partner in the wedding planning business.

Luckily, getting the wedding planning business active again facilitates several perfectly adorable meetings between catering staff, entertainers, and the guests at the weddings that bring them all together. Unexpected couples are revealed, each charming and endearing in their own way, with their own amusing stories.

I found this book to be so fun and such a cozy summer romance read. I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for those who enjoy fun, contemporary romances, with great lasting friendships thrown in.

{click here to purchase}

Becki Bayley enjoys listening to Handel’s flute sonatas and drinking Faygo Redpop while she reads. Find out more of what she’s been reading at SweetlyBSquared.com.

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a copy of It Had to Be You!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Thursday, May 13th, 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!

It Had to Be You, by Georgia Clark

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Book GIVEAWAY: Long Walk Home, by Ellen Oaksmith {ends 5/12}

Long Walk Home by Ellen Oaksmith was just released on April 28, 2021, and one of my lucky readers will win an e-copy of the book!

Official synopsis:
Book GIVEAWAY: Long Walk Home, by Ellen Oaksmith {ends 5/12}
Lola was struck by just how quickly she recognized him. It had been ten long years since she’d seen him; ten years of thinking that maybe she hadn't really loved him. But there he was. And he still took her breath away.

Lola has turned her life around since her wild teenage years, but one thing hasn’t changed: how her sister sees her. Her sister Carmen only remembers the mistakes she’s made and can’t see the potential of Lola’s plans to expand the family vineyard business at Blue Hills. But Lola is determined to win Carmen round—and gain her respect once and for all.

Then Lola’s high school sweetheart Gus arrives back in town, and everything changes. He was her first love, the bad boy she used to climb out of windows to see. But he’d broken her heart when he left town suddenly, without so much as a goodbye. And after that, she’d never seen him again. Until now.

Gus isn’t that same rebel anymore. It’s taken everything he has to come back to this town full of bittersweet memories, but he owes it to himself, and to Lola, to make amends. But she’s not that lovesick girl anymore and she knows she can’t let him turn her head again. So why can’t she stop thinking about how his strong arms would feel wrapped around her?

Then fate intervenes, and they’re forced to work together on Lola’s biggest project—and the sparks begin to fly once more…


As the sun sets over the mountains and meadows of Blue Hills, can two people who’d thought they could never be together find their way home to each other?

An utterly romantic feel-good read about being true to yourself and becoming the person you were always meant to be,
Long Walk Home will make you laugh, make you cry, and show you that true love always finds a way. For fans of Robyn Carr, Carolyn Brown and Mary Ellen Taylor.

Author bio:
Ellyn Oaksmith is the USA Today and Kindle bestselling author of addictively fun love stories. She has never run a winery, been attacked by drones or nearly drowned someone but she loves putting her characters in challenging situations. Ellyn also enjoys chatting with readers on social media. Especially when she should be writing.

Ellyn began her writing life as a screenwriter in Los Angeles which, outside of writing hours, is exactly as crazy as it seems in the movies. After hightailing it back to her native Seattle, Ellyn began writing comedic romances and never looked back.

Ellyn lives in Seattle with her husband. She's part of a competitive rowing team. You can often find her on Lake Sammamish rowing in the dark.

Author website: www.EllynOaksmith.com
Facebook: @EllynOaksmith
Instagram: @EllynOaksmith

{Click HERE to purchase the book}

GIVEAWAY:

One of my readers will win an e-copy of Long Walk Home!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Wednesday, May 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.

E-book will be sent to the winner directly from the publisher, as a Kindle copy.

Open to international since this one is an e-book!

Good luck!

Long Walk Home, by Ellen Oaksmith

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Book Review: The Stranger Inside, by Jennifer Jaynes

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

The doorbell rang at exactly seven p.m….just as Diane was walking downstairs.

Right on time.

When she opened the door, her stomach felt jittery. Rick stood in the doorway in a button-down shirt and tie, holding red roses. He looked even more handsome than the previous night, if that was even possible.

Unfortunately, both kids were in the living room. She’d been so stressed thinking about Josh’s pot smoking and getting herself ready in time for her date, she hadn’t thought about them actually being present when Rick arrived.

She quickly made awkward introductions. Josh was his usual laid-back self and gave Rick a cool nod and a “What’s up?” Alexa, on the other hand, stared at him, unblinking.

“You’re going on a date?” she’d asked.

“We’re going to dinner,” Diane said.

“Which is a date, right?” Alexa asked, her eyes never leaving Rick.

This book was definitely an interesting page-turner with lots of false suspicions, and one true villain, of course.

Official synopsis:
Book Review: The Stranger Inside, by Jennifer Jaynes
After mystery author Diane Christie loses her husband to suicide, she and her son move to the small coastal town of Fog Harbor, Massachusetts. Her daughter is attending college nearby, and Diane hopes that her family can now begin to heal. But rebuilding their lives after the tragedy isn’t so simple.

Diane’s depressed college-age daughter, Alexa, still avoids her, critical of everything Diane does, and even her generally amiable teenage son, Josh, has started acting out. Diane pushes forward, focusing on her writing and her volunteer work at a local crisis hotline. She knows that healing takes time.

But then a girl from Alexa's college is found strangled. Worse still, the murderer uses the crisis hotline to confess to Diane ... and claims she is the only one who can stop the killing. And just when the glow of new love from an attractive admirer begins to chase away some of the darkness, more girls turn up dead, and Diane races to solve a mystery she fears will hit terrifyingly close to home.


Diane feels her family’s life would be perfect if only her relationship with her daughter Alexa was better. At a college nearby, her daughter avoids her whenever possible, which may be better than when they are together and she’s angry and confrontational, or drunk. But in order to do her laundry and see the brother she loves, Alexa has to come home sometimes.

A visit from Diane’s best friend convinces Diane that she deserves her own happiness, and she even wants to put her foot down about letting Alexa be so disrespectful and mean to her. But dating may complicate things even more. Alexa isn’t sure if she hates her mother or not, but she knows she doesn’t trust the guys Diane invites to the home.

Overall this was a quick read with a quite unexpected ending. I’d give it 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for those who enjoy an exciting thriller.

{click HERE to purchase—currently FREE for Kindle Unlimited!}

Becki Bayley is a Gemini who enjoys the sun on her face, food cooked by other people, and bourbon. See more of her book reviews at SweetlyBSquared.com.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Kindred Spirits Supper Club, by Amy E. Reichert {ends 4/27}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

“He looks nice,” her brother Cal said. He and his husband, Brendan, stood and gave her hugs. “Is he ready for a Monroe family gathering?”

“We’re just friends.”

“You know what I mean. We aren’t always subtle, especially with Arabella claiming she can see blurry outlines and Oscar obsessed with the idea. She’s only trying to impress the other kids, but…”

Shit. Sabrina hadn’t thought about that. When they were together, everyone treated the family business as completely normal. It’s what had made the few short trips home each year between high school and now tolerable. Her family was a safe zone. She had been so excited to show Ray this secret part of the Dells that she’d forgotten the other secret, one he couldn’t know anything about. She was getting too comfortable with him much too soon. She didn’t know anything about him other than that he was from New York, had worked in real estate, and made a great fried cheese curds.


Sabrina’s plan when she moves back to the Dells is to work lots of hours, save up enough money to pay her bills up to date, and move back to the city and away from her quaint hometown and her hereditary "gift."

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Kindred Spirits Supper Club, by Amy E. Reichert {ends 4/27}
For Sabrina Monroe, moving back home to the Wisconsin Dells—the self-described Waterpark Capital of the World
means returning to the Monroe family curse: the women in her family can see spirits who come to them for help with unfinished business. But Sabrina's always redirected the needy spirits to her mom, who's much better suited for the job. The one exception has always been Molly, a bubbly rom-com loving ghost, who stuck by Sabrina's side all through her lonely childhood.

Her personal life starts looking up when Ray, the new local restaurateur, invites Sabrina to his supper club, where he flirts with her over his famous Brandy Old-Fashioneds. He's charming and handsome, but Sabrina tells herself she doesn't have time for romance--she needs to focus on finding a job. Except the longer she's in the Dells, the harder it is to resist her feelings for Ray. Who can turn down a cute guy with a fondness for rescue dogs and an obsession with perfecting his fried cheese curds recipe?

When the Dells starts to feel like home for the first time and with Ray in her corner, Sabrina begins to realize that she can make a difference and help others wherever she is.


Sabrina and Ray were such a perfect couple! Starting with their great meet-cute at the waterpark, the universe just kept throwing him into her path until she got more comfortable. Helping a girl feel more comfortable with a person when even her best friend is a ghost is truly the way to her heart. But it was her ghostly best friend who was both the one trying so hard to get them together, and the reason Sabrina was convinced it would never work out.

Sabrina’s evolution into someone who knew she deserved happiness and love regardless of her family quirks made this book so heartwarming and relatable. Those closest to Sabrina and her gentle and kind way of moving through the world already knew how special she was, but she was the last one to believe it.

I really enjoyed the unique characters and stories revealed between the humans and the ghosts. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. The paranormal twist made it feel more like a cozy mystery than a supernatural book. I’d recommend it for most readers who enjoy contemporary romance, or those who especially like stories taking place in the Midwest.

{click HERE to purchase - only $9.99 for Kindle right now!}

Becki Bayley enjoys sleeping in, avoiding cold weather, feeling the sun on her face, and curling up with a good book. Soon you’ll be able to see her new garden grow on Instagram as PoshBecki.

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a copy of The Kindred Spirits Supper Club!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Tuesday, April 27th, 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 Kindred Spirits Supper Club, by Amy E. Reichert

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: At the End of the World, Turn Left, by Zhanna Slor {ends 4/21}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Before Zoya, the closest I came to returning to Ukraine was in high school, during a Baltic cruise, when we spent a day in St. Petersburg. It was a weird trip; even though it was my first time back abroad, I had become anxious the last week, spending so much time locked in a room with my parents, and was looking forward to seeing Russia and heading back to America. But being Soviet refugees back in Russia was strange. On more than one occasion we overheard the Russian tour guides joking about how fat and ugly the group from our cruise ship was. They didn’t notice we could understand them; that’s how American we’d come to look in our bootcut jeans and Adidas sneakers. No one suspected us of being in our homeland. Maybe because it wasn’t our homeland anymore. The Jews had gone with the ruble, after all. And like my parents said, we were Jews first and Russians second—at least, this had been the case in the USSR. Our passports listed Jewish under nationality. Who knew, maybe we were Americans first now, or refugees first. I wasn’t sure. My identity was such a mess. It was sort of like wearing layers during the time of year that Autumn turns to Winter: when it’s freezing out, you appreciate every one. But when the sun comes out, you want to shed half of it to the ground; you feel suffocated. This is what identity could feel like, for me, sometimes. Like wearing too many coats, then not wearing enough.

Sisters Masha and Anna could be said to have had the same upbringing and background, but their transition and reactions to adulthood couldn’t have made them more different.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: At the End of the World, Turn Left, by Zhanna Slor {ends 4/21}
Masha remembers her childhood in the former USSR, but found her life and heart in Israel. Anna was just an infant when her family fled, but yearns to find her roots. When Anna is contacted by a stranger from their homeland and then disappears, Masha is called home to Milwaukee to find her.

In 2008, college student Anna feels stuck in Milwaukee, with no real connections and parents who stifle her artistic talents. She is eager to have a life beyond the heartland. When she’s contacted online by a stranger from their homeland―a girl claiming to be her long lost sister―Anna suspects a ruse or an attempt at extortion. But her desperate need to connect with her homeland convinces her to pursue the connection. At the same time, a handsome grifter comes into her life, luring her with the prospect of a nomadic lifestyle.

Masha lives in Israel, where she went on Birthright and unexpectedly found home. When Anna disappears without a trace, Masha’s father calls her back to Milwaukee to help find Anna. In her former home, Masha immerses herself in her sister’s life―which forces her to recall the life she, too, had left behind, and to confront her own demons. What she finds in her search for Anna will change her life, and her family, forever.


Masha and Anna were never really close sisters, but since they both went to college in Milwaukee, they knew some of the same people and places. So when their dad can’t get a hold of Anna, he calls Masha home from Israel to look for her sister. Masha resents it from the start, and was way happier with her new life in Israel than confronting and being reminded of her old life in Milwaukee.

It just gets worse when she finds her dad may have been lying to all of them, and creating the situation Masha is now expected to get Anna out of. There are a few different places Anna may have fled to, but does their dad know more now than he’s letting on? Masha’s mission to figure out what happened and bring Anna home may be near impossible without the truth about everything that happened before.

Overall, I’d give this family drama 3 out of 5 stars. I loved the little linguistic asides from Masha—words she’d learned in her linguistics studies that had no English equal. Sometimes it’s hard to find just the word to describe what you’re trying to say, but Masha had a lot more words to choose from. It was insightful learning about all of Masha and Anna’s family members and their reactions to the world and their situations as refugees. I’d recommend this book to those who enjoy family dramas, refugee stories, and people who enjoy learning about different world cultures and expectations.

{click HERE to pre-order; the book will be out on April 20, 2021}

Becki Bayley is a Gemini who enjoys reading, some writing, and being a wife and mother. She hopes to see her garden bloom soon, and will share pics on Instagram as PoshBecki.

GIVEAWAY:

Two of my lucky readers will win a copy of At the End of the World, Turn Left

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Wednesday, April 21st, at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be emailed the next day, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

Open to both U.S. and Canadian residents!

Good luck!

At the End of the World, Turn Left, by Zhanna Slor

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: To Love and To Loathe, by Martha Waters {ends 4/13}

"Is this about Jeremy?" Violet asked.

Diana sighed, nodding. "We came to our current arrangement under the understanding that it was to be temporary, mutually beneficial, and that we would go our separate ways when it ceased to please us both. But ..."

She trailed off, at a loss to explain the complex whirlwind of emotions that had taken up residence within her without her consent. That was the trouble with feelings—they so rarely appeared when it was convenient, and even more rarely did they appear in a desirable configuration.

I haven't read a fun romance novel in a while, and this fit the bill. It was also rather unusual, because novels set in this time period are usually about marrying or finding a wife/husband; this one had elements of that in there, but the main character is a widower and intent on being single for the rest of her life.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: To Love and To Loathe, by Martha Waters {ends 4/13}
The author of the “hilarious...joyful, elegant” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)
To Have and to Hoax returns with an effervescent, charming, and swoon-worthy novel about a man and woman who never agree on anything—until they agree to a no-strings-attached affair in this Regency-era romp.

The widowed Diana, Lady Templeton and Jeremy, Marquess of Willingham are infamous among English high society as much for their sharp-tongued bickering as their flirtation. One evening, an argument at a ball turns into a serious wager: Jeremy will marry within the year or Diana will forfeit one hundred pounds. So shortly after, just before a fortnight-long house party at Elderwild, Jeremy’s country estate, Diana is shocked when Jeremy appears at her home with a very different kind of proposition.

After his latest mistress unfavorably criticized his skills in the bedroom, Jeremy is looking for reassurance, so he has gone to the only woman he trusts to be totally truthful. He suggests that they embark on a brief affair while at the house party—Jeremy can receive an honest critique of his bedroom skills and widowed Diana can use the gossip to signal to other gentlemen that she is interested in taking a lover.

Diana thinks taking him up on his counter-proposal can only help her win her wager. With her in the bedroom and Jeremy’s marriage-minded grandmother, the formidable Dowager Marchioness of Willingham, helping to find suitable matches among the eligible ladies at Elderwild, Diana is confident her victory is assured. But while they’re focused on winning wagers, they stand to lose their own hearts.

With Martha Waters’s signature “cheeky charm and wonderfully wry wit” (Booklist, starred review), To Love and to Loathe is another clever and delightful historical rom-com that is perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Evie Dunmore.

This was a fun book to read. I forget exactly what year it takes place in but I believe it was in the early 1800s sometime, in England, where it's not exactly appropriate to sleep with many men before marriage! However, Diana is now a widow, and therefore has the luxury of her dearly departed husband's money and wealth. She and Jeremy Willingham have been friends forever, and there's always been something bubbling under the surface there, as well. 

I didn't realize until writing this that Martha Waters (the author) also wrote To Have and To Hoax, which my guest reviewer Becki reviewed in Sept. 2019 here. It sounds like based on the synopsis for that one that it takes place within the same world as To Love and To Loathe, which would make sense based on the titles, so I may have to read that one at some point too; I don't believe it's a follow-up novel, though, because this one was fine as a standalone read.

Overall, I would give To Love and To Loathe 3.5/5 stars—you can probably predict the ending, but it's fun getting there. 

To Love and To Loathe is on sale today, April 6, 2021, and can be purchased here

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky winners will win a copy of To Love and to Loathe!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Tuesday, April 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!


To Love and To Loathe, by Martha Waters

Monday, April 5, 2021

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Knives and Knightsticks, by K. Lew and C.R. Lockhart {ends 4/12}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

SADIE

“What part of ‘I promise I won’t go on a stakeout alone’ was unclear to you? What part of ‘I promise to be safe’ did you decide was up for debate?” She opened her mouth to speak, and I held up a finger and shot her a look that dared her to try me.

“How dare you? Honestly, how dare you! You are my best friend, my roommate, my family whom I have chosen, and you promised me that you would not endanger yourself again—you promised it on our friendship. Uh-uh, no, still my turn to talk,” I barrelled through her second attempt to speak.

“I would understand if Dion couldn’t make it, I would understand if you were annoyed, but what I cannot understand is why you wouldn’t tell me first. You know
you knowthat I would support you on any crusade, no matter how crazy. I would have done this with you.”

I finally took a moment and looked around the car at her detritus of takeout cups and lack of anything helpful.

“I would have also been a lot more prepared. Were you going to lure the mobster out with an iced latte? Most importantly, I would have known you were safe.” I took a deep breath, trying to calm down.

Sadie and Zoey are the best kind of best friends. And while down and dirty adventure may not be Sadie’s first choice, she’ll do what she has to for Zoey.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Knives and Knightsticks, by K. Lew and C.R. Lockhart {ends 4/12}
What shade of lipstick goes with bloodstains? Sadie and Zoey, best friends and sharers of shoes, have both lost their jobs for Very Bad Reasons. Sadie ditched her lawyer boyfriend (who happened to be her boss) and Zoey followed her nose into a story that shattered her burgeoning career as a journalist. When the story that destroyed Zoey’s career lands her next to a dead body, Sadie’s new job at the police station makes for the perfect spy. Unravelling the mystery proves to be more dangerous than expected, and the two find themselves wedged between romance, organized crime and deciding what shoes go best with a stakeout. If you loved the Stephanie Plum series, the Rock Chick series or
Firefly Lane, you'll enjoy Knives and Knightsticks!

Such a fun book! Sadie and Zoey are both going through some life changes. Sadie was lucky enough to stumble into a new job that made leaving her old job and cheating boyfriend much easier. Zoey has lost her reporting job, and publishing a retraction of what was supposed to be her big story isn’t exactly opening doors for her in the industry.

Whatever else may be going wrong in their lives, Sadie and Zoey always have each other, so they know they’ll make it through whatever life throws their way. Not only is their relationship something all friends could aspire to, they were individually charming, snarky and amusingly insightful. If only they could have noticed a few big red flags about the direction their lives had suddenly taken.

This book was great, and I can’t wait for new books in the series. I’d give this one 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to those who enjoy excellent friendship tales and contemporary fiction. Their single-girl city life sounds exciting, and I’m certain those from Toronto would recognize some of the landmarks mentioned by the authors.

{click here to purchase}

Becki Bayley loves warm spring weather, watching birds enjoy her garden, and pizza and wings delivered. Check out her other book reviews at SweetlyBSquared.com.

GIVEAWAY:

Per the authors' request, this one is going to run a little bit differently!

There will be two widgets below: one is for Canadians, and one for Americans.

Prizes include:
One paperback copy of the book—for Canadians only (the authors are Canadian)
Two e-book copies of the book—for Americans only

Gleam does tell me IPs, so please enter via the widget that is correct for you. :) 

Please enter via your appropriate widget below! Giveaway will end on Monday, April 12th, at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be notified the next day via email, and will have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner(s) will be chosen.

Good luck!

Knives and Knightsticks - CANADIAN CONTEST
Knives and Knightsticks - AMERICAN CONTEST

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Book Review and Book/Art GIVEAWAY: Libertie, by Kaitlyn Greenidge {ends 4/6 - three winners!}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Dear Libertie,

You have only written me of music and nothing of your studies. Miss Annie tells me that you are planning, with the ladies of the old LILS, a concert in the summer -- I would wish to know about it. I hope you will tell me of it when you come to stay.

Emmanuel is eager to hear of it, as well. I fear he grows bored here, out in the country, as it is. But he does not wish to go downtown and he rarely travels to Manhattan.

I am most excited for you two to meet. I think you will find him an excellent brother in study. He is so levelheaded, so calm, so persevering, that it is impossible not to wish to work as he does.

It is strange to have someone in the house who is not you, who is not my daughter.

I am eager to welcome you here, to your home, to where you belong, before you leave me again for your studies.

I hope this is not a sign that my Libertie is leaving me behind.

Your Mother


The constant in Libertie’s life has been her mother, and her mother’s career as a doctor willing to care for anyone. What if Libertie could be someone different?

Official synopsis:
Book Review: Libertie, by Katilyn Greenidge
Coming of age as a freeborn Black girl in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn, Libertie Sampson is all too aware that her purposeful mother, a practicing physician, has a vision for their future together: Libertie is to go to medical school and practice alongside her. But Libertie, drawn more to music than science, feels stifled by her mother’s choices and is hungry for something else—is there really only one way to have an autonomous life? And she is constantly reminded that, unlike her mother, who can pass, Libertie has skin that is too dark. When a young man from Haiti proposes to Libertie and promises she will be his equal on the island, she accepts, only to discover that she is still subordinate to him and all men. As she tries to parse what freedom actually means for a Black woman, Libertie struggles with where she might find it—for herself and for generations to come.

Inspired by the life of one of the first Black female doctors in the United States and rich with historical detail, Kaitlyn Greenidge’s new and immersive novel will resonate with readers eager to understand our present through a deep, moving, and lyrical dive into our complicated past.


This book was a great reminder of how hard growing up can be. Libertie Sampson, of course, had even more challenges. While living as a freeborn Black girl, she still saw slaves trying to escape. She knew she and her mother had always been free, but sometimes she wondered if freedom was all it was cracked up to be. Libertie saw that she suffered more prejudice than her mother and others with a lighter skin tone. Listening to other free peoples’ stories from around the world, Libertie begins to wonder if freedom is ever a reality.

The historical fiction aspect of this book spoke quite clearly to Libertie’s struggles as a Black woman. Her character seemed defined first growing up in her mother’s shadow, and then as an overlooked woman when her mother’s notoriety in the local community didn’t make her recognizable far from home. Her search for self was somewhat universal. She wondered internally at who she should be, when no one was telling her who to be anymore.

Libertie’s story and quest for her own identity was touching. It was easy to forget the book took place so long ago. I’d give this book 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it to those who like unique historical fiction and coming of age stories.

{click HERE to purchase}

Becki Bayley defines herself as a wife and mother. She also enjoys reading and posting about what she’s read at SweetlyBSquared.com.

GIVEAWAY:

THREE of my lucky readers will win a copy of Libertie, as well as an 11x14 inch frameable art print of Libertie on high quality textured paper!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Tuesday, April 6th, at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be contacted via email and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner(s) will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

Libertie, by Kaitlyn Greenidge - book + art print

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Book Review: Are We There Yet? by Kathleen West

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

“It’s just, Teddy’s reputation.” Alice sounded hopeless. “He did this other thing now. Made a stupid comment on social media and—”

“Who cares what other people think of Teddy?”

But of course, Alice had always cared about public opinion. Evelyn knew this. Appearances, after all, had become her daughter’s life’s work as an architect and interior designer. Alice’s desire to impress had seemed inborn. She’d collected only accolades all through middle and high school, cultivating her teachers’ and peers’ impressions of her. Alice herself had affixed the “Notre Dame Mom” sticker on the back window of Everlyn’s old Subaru the same day the acceptance came in. The Notre Dame architecture dream had been pure irony, Evelyn marveled, as Alice didn’t even know her mother had started at the very same school, transferring away only when her pregnancy mandated it.


Junior high is a complicated time for young teens’ relationships, and their mothers’ relationships too. The three moms featured in this book were used to doing everything together, but the changes their kids were going through seemed to be the catalyst for the mom connections to change as well.

Official synopsis:
Book Review: Are We There Yet? by Kathleen West
Alice Sullivan feels like she’s finally found her groove in middle age, but it only takes one moment for her perfectly curated life to unravel. On the same day she learns her daughter is struggling in second grade, a call from her son’s school accusing him of bullying throws Alice into a tailspin.

When it comes to light that the incident is part of a new behavior pattern for her son, one complete with fake social media profiles with a lot of questionable content, Alice’s social standing is quickly eroded to one of “those moms” who can’t control her kids. Soon she’s facing the very judgement she was all too happy to dole out when she thought no one was looking (or when she thought her house wasn’t made of glass).

Then her mother unloads a family secret she’s kept for more than thirty years, and Alice’s entire perception of herself is shattered.


As her son’s new reputation polarizes her friendships and her family buzzes with the ramification of her mother’s choices, Alice realizes that she’s been too focused on measuring her success and happiness by everyone else's standards. Now, with all her shortcomings laid bare, she’ll have to figure out to whom to turn for help and decide who she really wants to be.

Oh, what a day to be Alice! She starts out thinking her biggest concern is that she’ll have to cut her conference with her second grade daughter’s teacher short in order to rush to a career changing work appointment. In the first few minutes of the brief conference, her phone rings repeatedly from her son’s school. That’s just the beginning of everything falling apart, and it may take months or longer to put it all back together.

The characters in this book all felt sort of stereotypical, but that didn’t make them any less real. Unfortunately for the moms, most of their reputations and relationships were quite dependent on their kids. The kids were 12 or 13, and were starting to have more of their own choices to make. Their choices started changing everyone’s idea of who they and their moms were.

Overall, I’d give this book 3 out of 5 stars. The author could definitely portray convincingly what being a mom of a junior high aged kid can be like. This book would be an enjoyable read for those who like fiction, especially involving families.

{click HERE to purchase}

Becki Bayley is a mom who hopes to never have jarring revelations of what her kids are really like. So far, so good. See more of her and her kids on her instagram as PoshBecki.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Good Eggs, by Rebecca Hardiman {ends 3/28}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

“If I were you, Mrs. Jameson,” Millie continues now, “the first thing I’d do is check my handbag.”

Mrs. Jameson levels a watery, disconcerting gaze at, or sort of at, Millie.

“Not to alarm you—Kevin, my son, you see, now he’s an alarmist. He worries about his knees, he’s an athlete, you see. Wonderful tennis player. Very graceful. And then, oh Gerard’s exams! That’s his eldest. Will he fail? Will he meet a nice girl?”

Millie throws up exasperated hands to punctuate her monologue. She decides, having studied the woman’s soft folds of skin and collapsed neck and hand-stitched eyelet cover, that back when Mrs. Jameson was not bedridden, before whatever befell her, she was a generous woman with a creative streak and a wicked sense of fun, a good egg.


Three generations of the Irish Gogarty’s are having a bit of a rough time. It was an amusing distraction to read of how they face the problems that they think are shaking the world, while not even usually noticing what their other close family members are going through.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Good Eggs, by Rebecca Hardiman {ends 3/28}
When Kevin Gogarty’s irrepressible eighty-three-year-old mother, Millie, is caught shoplifting yet again, he has no choice but to hire a caretaker to keep an eye on her. Kevin, recently unemployed, is already at his wits’ end tending to a full house while his wife travels to exotic locales for work, leaving him solo with his sulky, misbehaved teenaged daughter, Aideen, whose troubles escalate when she befriends the campus rebel at her new boarding school.

Into the Gogarty fray steps Sylvia, Millie’s upbeat home aide, who appears at first to be their saving grace—until she catapults the Gogarty clan into their greatest crisis yet.

With charm, humor, and pathos to spare, Good Eggs is a delightful study in self-determination; the notion that it’s never too late to start living; and the unique redemption that family, despite its maddening flaws, can offer.


This was definitely an engaging multi-generational story. While most books marketed with three generations feature all women, this story highlighted the matriarch Millie, her son Kevin, and Kevin’s daughter (Millie’s granddaughter) Aideen. The three stories were mostly pretty independent of each other, until the last third of the story when Millie and Aideen joined forces to escape some troubles and confront others.

While the beginning of the book was a lot of set-up, the interaction of the whole family, and the adventures of Millie and Aideen really made the ending more fun. Millie was a quirky, eccentric old lady, but learning more about her story as the book went on was heartwarming. Kevin was unemployed with too much time on his hands, but recognized the value of his family eventually. Aideen appeared on the surface to just be a troubled teen, but she also had her own hidden charms.

Overall, I’d give this book 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it as a pleasant contemporary fiction. Some of the language and explanations that were unique to Irish culture added to the enjoyment.

{click here to purchase}

Becki Bayley worries that a real job may be cutting into her reading time. This was kind of expected. Read her other reviews at her own blog, SweetlyBSquared.com.

GIVEAWAY:

Two of my lucky readers will win a copy of Good Eggs!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Sunday, March 28th, at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be emailed the next day and must respond within 24 hours, or an alternate winner(s) will be chosen.

Open to both U.S. and Canadian residents!

Good luck!

Good Eggs, by Rebecca Hardiman

Monday, March 15, 2021

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Memory Collectors, by Kim Neville {ends 3/22}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

She sends the paper boat skimming across the waves. It’s easier this time, like she’s been building a muscle. There seems to be a quality to each object, the emotion it holds dictating the kind of response she can draw from it. She practiced with the lantern last night, lifting and floating it gently above her bed. She lit the candle inside and used the lantern’s joy to control the flame, brightening and dimming its glow. She lasted only a few minutes before her head began to ache and her limbs grew heavy, sending her into a deep, exhausted sleep.

This object is lighter than the lantern. It takes little effort to connect with it, to bring it alive. The list wants to move, so she helps it along. It takes flight, spinning and whirling with the wind until she can see only a speck against the navy blue of the ocean.

“How did you do that?”

She’s forgotten Brett completely. Oops. Ev shrugs, keeps her back turned.

“Wind must have caught it just right.” She squeezes her eyes shut, hoping he’ll accept the lie and move on.

What if objects carried the emotions of those who had possessed them before? What if they spread the old emotions as they moved throughout the world? Maybe for some people they do.

Official synopsis:
Ev has a mysterious ability, one that she feels is more a curse than a gift. She can feel the emotions people leave behind on objects and believes that most of them need to be handled extremely carefully, and—if at all possible—destroyed. The harmless ones she sells at Vancouver’s Chinatown Night Market to scrape together a living, but even that fills her with trepidation. Meanwhile, in another part of town, Harriet hoards thousands of these treasures and is starting to make her neighbors sick as the overabundance of heightened emotions start seeping through her apartment walls.


When the two women meet, Harriet knows that Ev is the only person who can help her make something truly spectacular of her collection. A museum of memory that not only feels warm and inviting but can heal the emotional wounds many people unknowingly carry around. They only know of one other person like them, and they fear the dark effects these objects had on him. Together, they help each other to develop and control their gift, so that what happened to him never happens again. But unbeknownst to them, the same darkness is wrapping itself around another, dragging them down a path that already destroyed Ev’s family once, and threatens to annihilate what little she has left.

The Memory Collectors casts the everyday in a new light, speaking volumes to the hold that our past has over us—contained, at times, in seemingly innocuous objects—and uncovering a truth that both women have tried hard to bury with their pasts: not all magpies collect shiny things—sometimes they gather darkness.

Ev holds others at a distance for their own good, at least that’s what she tells herself. She hates feeling the emotions of others through objects they’ve previously had. She purposely keeps her living space as impersonal as possible, so she can try to keep herself quiet and unaffected by other influences. While she spends time with Owen, it’s mostly because he doesn’t make her reveal more about herself than she wants to. Ev thinks the only one who truly knows her is her sister Noemi.

Then Ev and Owen meet Harriet. While Owen has always known that Ev’s relationship to objects is different than most people, he recognizes that Harriet also treats the objects in her care with more reverence than most. So if Ev and Harriet have that in common, should they be friends? Ev hardly trusts herself with her power, she’s really reluctant to trust Harriet, who has hoarded her apartment so full of bright things (as she calls them) that she’s making her neighbors sick with all the emotions spilling out.

Ev and Harriet were so unique. While their understanding of the objects they encounter seemed to be something they had in common, how they reacted was very different. Is it from their background? The strength of their power? Their own will? What does using their powers, or not, cost them?

The story and characters in this book were amazing to me, and I would give the book 5 out of 5 stars. I’d love to read it again and see what other signs I missed of how it all would develop next. I’d recommend this book for those who enjoy unique stories and magical realism.

{click HERE to purchase}

Becki Bayley likes flowers, shiny memories, and the smell of old books. Read more of her reviews and sometimes other thoughts at SweetlyBSquared.com.

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a copy of The Memory Collectors!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Monday, March 22nd, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be contacted 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 Memory Collectors, by Kim Neville

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Book Review - I Can See Clearly: Rise of a Supernatural Hero, by James A. Cusumano

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

When we arrived at Bella’s home, she looked at me with great distress. Her eyes were welling up with tears.

“Look, Luc, I’ve told you several times this past week, you’re my best friend -- ever. But I’m frightened, and to be honest, I’m becoming afraid of you. I don’t know who or what you are anymore. What just happened back there at the preserve with that Eric guy was way beyond normal. Some kinda high-energy electric bolt or something came out of your body and nearly killed him -- and, what’s more, it had no effect on you! I’ve never heard of such a thing. Whatever happened to you during your NDE in the hospital has changed you into I don’t know what, and I’m scared, very scared—scared for me, scared for you, scared for us. Forget spying for the CIA—what kind of frightening thing will you do next?”


Luc isn’t sure if his newly discovered gifts are a blessing or a curse. His whole life is changing, and he doesn’t feel in control of any of it.

Official synopsis:
Book Review - I Can See Clearly: Rise of a Supernatural Hero, by James A. Cusumano
Sixteen-year-old star basketball player, Luc Ponti wins an important tiebreaker game for the Palo Alto Vikings with a three-point basket during the last few seconds of play. He is simultaneously critically injured with a flagrant foul by a player from the opposing team. Luc dies for several minutes but is revived after having a near-death experience (NDE). He inexplicably begins to develop superpowers, which change the course of his life and have a profound impact on the world.

Luc becomes caught in a tangled web of espionage, blackmailed by the CIA to use his powers of remote viewing to spy for them. This creates conflict in his life, most significant—how can he pursue his long-time dream of playing varsity ball for a top college; major in engineering; and possibly go pro after graduation. I Can See Clearly is the story of a talented teenager seeking the Meaning of Life and his Life Purpose, while fighting the grip of the CIA.

The prologue for this story really sets the stage. In 2017, a monk tells a teenager of a very important arrival predicted for 2018. The foreshadowing going into the actual story was excellent.

In 2018, Luc is introduced: a great basketball player under enormous pressure, especially from his father, a former ball player who chose not to go pro. What should have been a minor injury if any ends up rupturing Luc’s appendix, leading to fevers, infections, and even his death, but he’s sent back to the world he’s always known.

Once Luc recovers from his injury and near-death experience, he keeps discovering new talents including traveling outside his body, reading minds, and telling the future. While the gifts sound helpful, they continually put Luc and his friends and family at risk.

The characters in this book, the first in the series, were interesting. Luc was a believable typical teen dealing with some pretty non-typical experiences. His friends Bella, and then Eric were also regular kids having to come up with new responses to unique situations. The monk, Thay, who becomes sort of an advisor to Luc is fun and quirky, if a little wordy at times.

The story-line is of course a bit far-fetched, by design, but well told. It felt like the author wanted to impart a lot of philosophical and spiritual wisdom, which sometimes got tedious, but the rest of the intrigue and adventure played out nicely.

Overall, I’d give this book 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for those with some paranormal or philosophical interest who also like a bit of government spy stories. I look forward to checking out what happens next for these teenagers with unusually exciting lives.

{click HERE to purchase}

Becki Bayley likes painting her nails, drinking bourbon, and reading. See more of her adventures on Instagram where she posts as PoshBecki.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Nature of Fragile Things, by Susan Meissner {ends 2/24}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

As we settle in for the night and just as the last light of day leaves us, National Guardsmen walk through the park to announce that a curfew has been set in the park and in the city. No one is to be out and about after sundown or before sunup. No one is allowed to return to areas where the fires have raged nor where the fires are headed. The mayor has declared that any looters will be shot on sight. No candles are allowed of any kind anywhere and no cooking fires inside any structure, as that very thing was the cause of one of the fires now burning out of control. No liquor is to be sold to anyone for any reason. We are also told army tents will arrive early tomorrow morning, but that tonight we must make do with whatever we can. We are not to worry about the fires approaching the park while we sleep. The army has positioned troops outside the park to watch for them.

The guardsmen move on to repeat their announcements over and over to the hundreds upon hundreds of us spread out on the park’s lawn.


The earthquake and subsequent fires make for an eventful story on their own. Add in multifaceted characters each with their own agenda and the book gets really exciting.

Official synopsis:
Book Review: The Nature of Fragile Things, by Susan Meissner
April 18, 1906: A massive earthquake rocks San Francisco just before daybreak, igniting a devouring inferno. Lives are lost, lives are shattered, but some rise from the ashes forever changed.

Sophie Whalen is a young Irish immigrant so desperate to get out of a New York tenement that she answers a mail-order bride ad and agrees to marry a man she knows nothing about. San Francisco widower Martin Hocking proves to be as aloof as he is mesmerizingly handsome. Sophie quickly develops deep affection for Kat, Martin's silent five-year-old daughter, but Martin's odd behavior leaves her with the uneasy feeling that something about her newfound situation isn't right.

Then one early-spring evening, a stranger at the door sets in motion a transforming chain of events. Sophie discovers hidden ties to two other women. The first, pretty and pregnant, is standing on her doorstep. The second is hundreds of miles away in the American Southwest, grieving the loss of everything she once loved.


The fates of these three women intertwine on the eve of the devastating earthquake, thrusting them onto a perilous journey that will test their resiliency and resolve and, ultimately, their belief that love can overcome fear.


Drama and deceit seems to carry on regardless of whatever else is happening in the world. The historical setting for the realization of the evil deeds of one man against several women both multiplied and helped erase the coping and revenge that followed. A lot can be disguised during a major earthquake and the burning of most of a city.

This book had interesting characters from all walks of life. Sophie obviously had a past the reader didn’t know everything about. Martin was an adequate husband, but where did he go for a few days at a time, over and over? Poor nearly-orphaned Kat was the most tragic—a five-year-old who had already stopped talking over the loss of her mother—was there something more in her past she wasn’t telling? These were the only three main characters for the first half of the book, but on the night before the earthquake, a stranger shows up at their door and everyone’s stories start unraveling.

Overall, I’d give this book 4 out of 5 stars. The historical part of the fiction was so revealing of what living through the earthquake and subsequent fires in 1906 may have been like. The intrigue and story of the women’s lives and their connections was also so interesting. The book was impossible to put down until all the storylines were untangled. I’d recommend this for any reader who enjoys historical fiction or drama stories. The epilogue was also quite tidy about wrapping up the loose ends. I love when that happens!

{click HERE to purchase}

Becki Bayley loves her uneventful life. She is a wife and mother who works and reads. Find more of her book reviews at SweetlyBSquared.com.

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a copy of The Nature of Fragile Things

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Wednesday, February 24th, 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!

The Nature of Fragile Things, by Susan Meissner

Monday, February 15, 2021

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Water Memory, by Daniel Pyne {ends 2/22}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

The lips and crannies, flanges and straps of the shipping containers provide a slow, sore ascent for Sentro, who has clambered to the top of a short stack, where, in cover, she tries to catch her breath and discovers the mercenaries are heaving bodies of C-deck to plummet into the sea.

Awkward, angular dropping shadows are set off starkly against the slate-blue sky. One, two, three. A pink hoodie flutters away from the last of them; it floats down for a long time, like a dying bird.

Do I scare you, Aubrey?

Sentro looks away from it, eyes watering, resisting the hollow chill rising from her heart.

Say no, then. My feelings won’t be hurt.

People wink out all the time. It’s staying alive that’s hard.

When he was on death watch, she would slip away from the office and go to the hospice, curl up next to her husband on his bed, careful because just touching sometimes hurt, but watching him, counting his breaths, the pulse of his heart in his neck, wondering what her life would be without him, knowing that it would be the same. But without him.

Aubrey Sentro is very good at what she does. Now that she’s in trouble in her time away from work, she’s counting on her work instincts to keep her alive while her jumbled brain is making everything more confusing.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Water Memory, by Daniel Pyne {ends 2/22}
Black ops specialist Aubrey Sentro may be one concussion away from death. But when pirates seize the cargo ship she’s on, she must decide whether to risk her life to save her fellow passengers.

Sentro’s training takes over, and she’s able to elude her captors, leaving bodies in her wake. But her problems are just getting started. Her memory lapses are getting more frequent, symptoms of serial-concussion syndrome.

As she plays a deadly game of cat and mouse with the pirates, she pushes herself to survive by focusing on thoughts of her children. She’s never told them what she really does for a living, and now she might not get the chance.

While her memories make her vulnerable, motherhood makes her dangerous.


A forced vacation never sounds like a good time, especially to a workaholic who really has nothing else to do with her time. But Aubrey Sento’s co-workers aren’t sure what else to do with her as her hesitations and confusion could be endangering them all. She’s definitely not like other women, so a cruise on a cargo ship with a lot less entertainment sounds like the right idea for time away to her.

While she’s definitely an impressively strong female character, several of the other characters in this story stood out too. Both of her children have a high level of self-awareness about their relationship with her. The crew and other guests on the ship had unique but believable backstories. Some favorites, though, were the heroin-riddled former doctor with an uncontrollable urge to do right, the orphan girl he inappropriately loves, and her brother.

Overall, I’d give this book 4 out of 5 stars. While it would qualify as contemporary fiction, the story also followed an unexpected path. These interesting characters telling an unpredictable story provided for an enjoyable read. I’ll look forward to the sequel scheduled for the Aubrey Sentro series.

{click HERE to purchase}

Becki Bayley is a wife and mom to humans and cats. She lives in the cold, cold north and always yearns for summer. Check out how she’s been amusing herself on Instagram where she posts as PoshBecki.

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a copy of Water Memory!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Monday, February 22nd, 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!

Water Memory, by Daniel Pyne

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Book Review: The Lost Swimmer, by Ann Turner

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

At least being injured had meant an end to mediation with Priscilla. She had cancelled further sessions on the pretense that I needed time to recuperate, but I suspected it was also because of the investigation and I couldn’t help thinking of that as one silver lining.

On my first day back, Rachel and I hurried across to the administration building to a full staff meeting called by Priscilla. I was short of breath from the exertion, but other than that, my body was stronger and I was definitely on the mend.

When we arrived in the airy room I glanced about. Since I had been away it was like a black hole had opened at Coastal and swallowed all the elderly professors. Old turtleneck McCall had taken early retirement, so too Oliver Yeats, who had never really coped with his downsized office. They’d both phoned me to say goodbye and the conversations were incalculably sad. There had been no official farewell and I’d been too unwell to fight Lisa Clements, who, to our collective horror, had been appointed Acting Head in my absence. And so the professors had just faded into the ether, sent off with their packages after thirty years of service without so much as a thank you.


Rebecca Wilding is convinced her husband is having an affair, but there’s no proof. She knows she’s doing her job and doing it well, but they’re investigating her for fraud. The truth is becoming more and more confusing.

Official synopsis:
Rebecca Wilding, an archaeology professor, traces the past for a living.

But suddenly, truth and certainty is turning against her. Rebecca is accused of serious fraud, and worse, she suspects – she knows – that her husband, Stephen, is having an affair.

Desperate to find answers, Rebecca leaves with Stephen for Greece, Italy and Paris, where she can uncover the conspiracy against her, and hopefully win Stephen back to her side, where he belongs. There’s too much at stake—her love, her work, her family.

But on the idyllic Amalfi Coast, Stephen goes swimming and doesn’t come back.

In a swirling daze of panic and fear, Rebecca is dealt with fresh allegations. And with time against her, she must uncover the dark secrets that stand between her and Stephen, and the deceit that has chased her halfway around the world.


This book read a lot like literary fiction. The story flowed through Rebecca’s life and contemplations about what it all might mean. In her personal life, she was dealing with her own suspicions and concerns without proof that any of it was really in crisis. In her professional life, she expected things to be rather uneventful, until she’s accused of a series of actions that could cost her all of the progress and existence of her career. Was it possible that some of her worries were just her own anxiety? On the other hand, is there something to worry about even when she knows she hasn’t done anything wrong?

The characters and pacing of the story were just right. While the kangaroo attack never seemed to fit a lot with the rest of the book (?), its results did influence the way it all progressed. And what would a book taking place in Australia really be without a good kangaroo attack?

Overall, I’d give this book a high 3.5 out of 5 stars. The ending was a bit anticlimactic after all the build up, but I’m not sure how it could have been different. I’d recommend this book for those who like contemporary fiction.

{click HERE to purchase}

Becki Bayley works in finance and legal. She’s learning more every day. Find out what she’s doing in her relaxing hours on Instagram, where she posts as PoshBecki.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Book Review: Malibu Rising, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

In the blindingly bright mornings before his first glass of bourbon ... 

Mick thought of his children. Nina, Jay, and Hud.

They would be fine, he figured. He had chosen a good mother for them. He had done that right. And he was paying the bills for all of them. He was keeping that roof over their head, sending child support payments that were sky high. They would be fine. After all, he'd been fine with far less than they had. He gave no thought to the idea that he might break his children just as someone had broken him. 

I'm a HUGE fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid's books, except I was really disappointed by Daisy Jones & the Sixher last novel—I'm not sure why I disliked it, but I actually didn't even finish it. I'm happy to report that Malibu Rising is more in the format of her older books, and I really enjoyed it. 

Official synopsis:
Book Review: Malibu Rising, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
From the New York Times bestselling author of
Daisy Jones & The Six . . . Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, their lives will change forever.

Malibu: August 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come rising to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.

Taylor Jenkins Reid is a fantastic writer (for Daisy Jones & the Six, I think I just didn't like the format of the book), and Malibu Rising was a great book. In her previous books, the author sometimes focused on romantic relationships; although this book did have some romance in it, it focused more on the relationship between Nina Riva and her three siblings, as well as their tumultuous relationship with their rockstar dad, Mick Riva, who left them—and then came back, at one point—when they were children. 

Most of TJR's books are heartbreaking, in some form or another, and this one was no exception; however, I always really enjoy them nonetheless. This novel bounced back and forth between the 1950s and 1960s, when June (their mother) meets Mick Riva, and the 1970's and 1980s, when Nina is helping to raise her brothers and sister. The end focuses on the Riva's annual end-of-summer-party, and the craziness that happens there.

4.5 stars out of 5.

{click HERE to pre-order; it will be online/in stores on June 1, 2021}

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

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Summer Breeze, by Shail Rajan {ends 2/11}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Callie closed her eyes, lay back on her sofa, and let her mind wander. Her thoughts drifted back to the day she first decided that she wanted to open her own bed and breakfast. She had been daydreaming on the garden swing in her parents’ backyard when the idea had first revealed itself to her.

Thinking back to that time in her life made Callie smile. She closed her eyes and imagined the gentle swaying of the garden swing and the warmth of the sun. Opening her eyes again, Callie looked out the window at the gray skies of late winter. She was eager for the change of seasons that would usher in springtime and bid farewell to the cold weather.

Suddenly, as if confirming her hopes, the winter sun peeked through the clouds and filtered through her window onto her face. Callie felt the brightness and the promise of the coming warmth. She inhaled deeply and was reminded of the warm summer breeze that had blown over her on that day so many months ago and the feelings that it had evoked in her. She felt surprisingly peaceful and contented, and that is when she knew exactly what to call her bed and breakfast: The Summer Breeze.


There’s something so freeing about following along with a main character who completely changes her life. Wondering how things could be if they were completely different can be quite an enjoyable escape from reality for a spell.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Summer Breeze, by Shail Rajan {ends 2/11}
Tired of her fast-paced life in New York City, Callie leaves it all behind to embark on an adventure that will bring her to a new town, a new home, a new career, and possibly, a new love.

Callie Williams loved the quaint upstate region of New York State where she grew up but left it behind to pursue her career in the Big Apple. After years of working long hours and climbing the corporate ladder, she finds herself unhappily engaged to a powerful politician’s son. All that changes in an unexpected instant and upends life as she knows it. Unsure of what to do, Callie finds herself back in her hometown, back in her childhood bedroom.

Surrounded by her family and the countryside she loves, Callie is more relaxed than she has been in years, yet she feels restless. She yearns to find a place for herself – a new career, a home of her own. A life changing idea presents itself, and Callie decides it is time to take the leap. She soon finds herself the owner of a new business and knee deep in a major home renovation. But that’s not all she finds….


It was such a joy to slip into Callie’s world. Her sister shows up one day and points out that Callie just isn’t happy in New York. She’s definitely successful, but she isn’t happy, like she was growing up with her beloved family in their beautiful home. Having been successful for long enough to have some savings, she walks away from it all and heads back home to her nurturing family.

The writing style of this book was conversational and made the reader feel like someone close to Callie. Her journey was not without regular obstacles, but starting out with enough money to do nothing and still survive definitely can make chasing dreams sound more reasonable. More of the book was spent on the real project of becoming a part of the Seneca Springs community and making the bed and breakfast successful than on romance for Callie, but patience brought her love too.

Overall, I’d give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to readers who like contemporary fiction and strong female characters. It was a fun, relatable read that I sincerely enjoyed.

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

Becki Bayley is a Gemini who hopes to make more time in the new year for counted cross-stitch and papercrafts. See a few pictures of how she spends her time on Instagram where she posts as PoshBecki.

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a copy of The Summer Breeze!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Thursday, February 11th, 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! The author will be shipping the book to you. :) 

Good luck!

The Summer Breeze, by Shail Rajan

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: 365 Days, by Blanka Lipinska {ends 2/6}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

“Say something, Laura,” he hissed.

“I’m tired,” I replied, sitting in the other armchair. “Besides, it’s none of my business. I’m here because I have to be, and each day brings me closer to my birthday and my freedom.”

I knew that what I said wasn’t the whole truth, but I was in no mood to talk about it. The Man in Black kept his eyes on me for a long while, his jaw working rhythmically. I knew that my words had hurt and angered him. I just didn’t care.

He got up and headed to the door, grabbing the handle. He turned his head, sent me a cold look, and said impassively, “She told me she’ll kill you, to take away the thing that I cherish the most. Just as I have taken it away from her.”

“Excuse me!?” I called out, shocked. “And you’re just going to leave after telling me that?” I stormed in his direction. “You damned egomaniac…” I trailed off when I saw he was actually hanging the Do Not Disturb sign on the door. I stopped, my hands hanging limply at my sides, staring at him.


Laura is living a contented, relatively uneventful life in Warsaw until a trip to Sicily with some friends for her birthday. A man sees her arriving at the airport and swears she is the woman of his literal dreams. Now that he’s found her, it’s time for her to belong to him.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: 365 Days, by Blanka Lipinska {ends 2/6}
Laura Biel and her boyfriend are on a dream vacation in beautiful Sicily. On the second day of their trip, her twenty-ninth birthday, she is kidnapped. Her kidnapper is none other than the head of a powerful Sicilian crime family, the incredibly handsome, young Don Massimo Torricelli, who is determined to possess her at all costs. Massimo has his reasons. During an earlier attempt on his life, a vision appeared before his eyes: a beautiful woman, identical to Laura. After surviving the attack, he vows that he will find the woman in his vision and make her his own. No matter what.

For 365 days, Massimo will keep Laura captive in his palatial estate and attempt to win her heart. If she doesn’t fall in love with him during this time, he will let her go. But if she tries to escape at any point, he will track her down and kill her entire family.

Soon Laura develops a fascination with her handsome and powerful captor. But as a precarious, risky relationship forms between them, forces outside their control threaten to tear them apart…


If a man is obsessed with a woman, kidnaps her, stops others from coming to her rescue, and threatens to kill her family if she tries to escape, this is not romantic, no matter how rich he is. Someone wanting to be with a woman that much sounds like he may truly love her, but taking these actions to eliminate her choice in the matter makes it abuse instead of devotion.

That being said, the steamy scenes were definitely steamy, if a little repetitive. Hopefully Laura and Massimo can find that they have something in common besides chemistry as the series progresses. The cliffhanger at the end definitely left this book open to proceed in a variety of directions for books two and three in the trilogy.

Overall, I give this book 2.5 out of 5 stars. Those reading it should be under no illusions of it being a romance. Rape is depicted repeatedly, even if Laura claims to have changed her mind as the act progresses. A reader who understands what they’re getting into and likes similar fiction stories may enjoy this one as well.

{click here to pre-order; will be in stores/online on February 2, 2021}

Becki Bayley is a Gemini who enjoys having painted fingernails, cold Cherry Coke available, and a variety of books to read. According to this brief list, her life is perfect. You can get a glimpse of this perfection from time to time on Instagram, where she posts as PoshBecki.

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a digital copy of 365 Days!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Saturday, February 6th, 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.

Winner will receive a link to download the book from NetGalley.com.

Open to international!

Good luck!
365 Days, by Blanka Lipinska

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Until It Was, by Melissa Brodsky {ends 1/31}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

VANESSA

I had never missed having a sibling because of how immersed in Donna’s family I had been. Her family would invite mine for the holidays, so we were never left alone and I was always with Donna, who had become more than a sister to me.

I missed her. More and more, the further we got from each other. I was stubborn, but then again, I was not the one who needed to apologize for the horrible words. That was on her, as was the distance between us. I didn’t know if I could ever fully pardon her from her sins, but I wasn’t confident I could find a way to move on.

Lance was snoring softly, and I was wide awake. I wanted to discuss Donna with him, get his thoughts on what I should do. I sighed loudly in hopes it would get him to open his eyes.

Vanessa, Lance, and Donna have been inseparable since their high school days. Now in their early 50s, is it too late for Vanessa and Lance to admit they’ve always wanted more?


Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Until It Was, by Melissa Brodsky {ends 1/31}
Single mom Vanessa Wilson is finally free. After eighteen tumultuous years, she can take a breath and focus on what matters most, her thirteen-year-old daughter, Sophia. Vanessa will do anything to protect her child, even if it means running from Lance, a love she had waited a lifetime for.

Lance Taylor has his exit plan. He’s ready to embrace life and live it to its fullest down in the Florida Keys. He’s commitment-free and sworn off any entanglements that may sway his bachelor’s heart—until Vanessa.

Best friends since high school, their undeniable attraction takes root and blossoms. When Vanessa’s ex-husband uses Sophia as an agent for revenge, Lance whisks them off to his bachelor pad in the Florida Keys. Flames ignite, and their relationship shifts on its axis. But, as things intensify, doubt erupts.

When a devastating secret is revealed that threatens to destroy the relationship they waited so long for, Vanessa and Lance must find a way back to each other. Or, any hope for a future together will remain forever in their dreams.


Vanessa married her ex-husband because it was time for her to get married. All of her friends were married, and dating wasn’t much fun. Without planning to, she ended up pregnant a few years later. Her daughter, Sophia, is the one bright spot from a bad marriage that still carried on for 13 more years. Vanessa is ready to move on from her marriage and make a good life for herself and Sophia.

But sometimes moving forward means moving back. Now spending all of her free time with her best friends from high school, Vanessa and Lance confess their long-held feelings for each other. Life is never as simple as we want it to be. Most of the story is the tumultuous path of Vanessa and Lance learning that sometimes telling the truth about feelings is the easy part—they still need to fight for themselves and their relationship with each other.

Overall, I’d give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars. It was an interesting contemporary romance with a few twists and turns along the way. Without spoiling too much, Vanessa and Lance do get their happy ending.

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

Becki Bayley likes quiet, cozy nights with a warm blanket and a good book. Sometimes she takes a minute to share her contentment on Instagram as PoshBecki.

GIVEAWAY:

The author (a local metro Detroiter!) will be giving away TWO copies of this one to my lucky readers. Winners can choose Kindle copy (through Amazon) or a finished copy of the book.

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Sunday, January 31st, at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be notified via email the next day, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner(s) will be published.

Open to international for this one, since it's a Kindle giveaway! (if you'd like a finished copy, you must be in the U.S., though)

Good luck!

Until It Was, by Melissa Brodsky

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