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.


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.


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


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


“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.


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

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