Thursday, April 27, 2023

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Liquid Shades of Blue, by James Polkinghorn {ends 5/4}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Back in the kitchen mindlessly picking at the eggs Marta had placed before me, I noticed that the Duke had turned to look at me, apparently sensing that we were through talking about Bobby.

“So after you’ve eaten, I’d like to take you over to the condo to look around. Maybe you’ll notice something. The homicide cop really wasn’t looking for anything. At least it seemed to me.”

Unspoken here was his supposition that my experience with suicide might yield some insight refuting his murderous lover fantasy. The Duke was always practical and wouldn’t want to waste time on a pipe dream, however much he wanted it to be true. 

“Sure,” I responded. “I wanted to see it either way. I was hoping I could find some meaning in it. Or maybe just understanding.”

Pushing my plate away, I concluded. “Let’s go.”

Jack thought the tragedies in his life were over. He was happy that he had a mostly solitary life that he enjoyed.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Liquid Shades of Blue, by James Polkinghorn {ends 5/4}
When hungover ex-lawyer and Key West bar owner Jack Girard groggily wakes up one morning, he’s greeted by a beautiful woman lying next to him and a shrill, ringing telephone. Seeing the call is from his father, Claude “The Duke” Girard, Jack answers. Within seconds, he learns that his mother is dead in an apparent suicide, and Jack hits the road, heading back to his childhood home in Miami to face his tyrannical father.

The death of his mother brings up haunting memories from Jack’s past—memories of his brother Bobby’s suicide when they were in college together. Being back in Miami only continues to dredge up his family traumas, but things grow more complicated when The Duke suggests that his estranged wife’s alleged suicide may have been a murder.

As Jack begins to uncover the truth about his mother’s death, including the secret she had revealed to only two people—the same secret Bobby had taken with him to his grave—he finds himself in imminent danger. Can Jack reveal the true story before it’s too late? He has to act quickly, or he fears he may be the victim of the next Girard family tragedy.

Jack was a fun charactera smart former lawyer who chose to leave that career path instead of crossing the more powerful attorney in town, his father. He moves to Key West and buys a neighborhood bar that was previously just being managed by locals while being owned by business people far away. His lawyer smarts come in handy for those of his friends who may need assistance in Key West, but he mostly minds his own business and enjoys his own company.

He hasn’t gotten close to many people since the death of his brother while they were in college, and then his assumed disgrace in the legal community. When his mother unexpectedly dies, he’s confronted with some of the old relationships that he just let go when he moved on to his new life. Sorting it all out again may be the key to solving the problems of his past and moving on to a future where he can actually be happy.

This was an enjoyable read that earned 3 out of 5 stars. It could be recommended for those who like family dramas with a bit of mystery, and quirky characters with interesting motivations. While it may have been a little less-exciting in the middle, the ending made it worth it.

{click here to purchase from Amazon}

Becki Bayley is a daughter, sister, wife and mother. She enjoys reading and supporting her local theater. Check out what else she’s up to on Instagram where she posts as PoshBecki.


One of my lucky readers will win a copy of Liquid Shades of Blue!

Enter via the widget below. The giveaway will end on Thursday, May 4th, at 11:59pm EST, and the 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!

Liquid Shades of Blue, by James Polkinghorn

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Book Review and GIVEAWAY - Justice is Served: A Tale of Scallops, the Law, and Cooking for RBG, by Leslie Karst {ends 5/2}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Why, oh why couldn’t I find a vocation I truly loved — as much as Ruth did the law? I was still musing on this quandry as I made several stops after work that day to buy groceries for the dinner. After swinging by Staff of Life for salad ingredients and crème fraîche for the soup, I drove to Trader Joe’s, where I snagged a cart and pulled my shopping list out of my bag. First the snack food aisle. I’d decided on cashews and Japanese rice crackers with seaweed and wasabi peas to have with the Champagne, as a hint of the main course to come. I also needed pine nuts for the salad. 

Meeting people who are passionate about their work can be inspiring any time, but if they’re famous for it too, the influence cannot be denied.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY - Justice is Served: A Tale of Scallops, the Law, and Cooking for RBG, by Leslie Karst {ends 5/2}
When Leslie Karst learned that her offer to cook dinner for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her renowned tax law professor husband, Marty, had been accepted, she was thrilled—and terrified. A small-town lawyer who hated her job and had taken up cooking as a way to add a bit of spice to the daily grind of pumping out billable hours, Karst had never before thrown such a high-stakes dinner party. Could she really pull this off?

Justice Is Served is Karst’s light-hearted, earnest account of the journey this unexpected challenge launched her on—starting with a trip to Paris for culinary inspiration, and ending with the dinner itself. Along the way, she imparts details of Ginsburg’s transformation from a young Jewish girl from Flatbush, Brooklyn, to one of the most celebrated Supreme Court justices in our nation’s history, and shares recipes for the mouthwatering dishes she came up with as she prepared for the big night. But this memoir isn’t simply a tale of prepping for and cooking dinner for the famous RBG; it’s also about how this event, and all the planning and preparation that went into it, created a new sort of connection between Karst, her partner, and her parents, and also inspired Karst to make life changes that would reverberate far beyond one dinner party.

The author wrote an interesting story of her life, even while confessing it probably wasn’t the life of her dreams. She worked in a law office by day, but she didn’t have the passion for it that she saw in her father, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, or Ruth’s husband, tax attorney Marty Ginsberg. What she really sounded passionate about was planning the dinner she would be serving to the Ginsbergs at her parents’ house. 

Karst was great at making the food and its preparation sound way more interesting than this reader usually considers it. She took into account the Ginsbergs’ preferences and limitations, and then set out to serve a truly impressive and memorable meal in the midst of a weekend of events in their honor. The book provided insight to Justice Ginsberg’s background (through entertaining interludes about her life and career), while also giving the first-person retelling of having spent a bit of time personally with the Justice. 

The book was interesting and engaging to read and live the life of the author for a year, but it was also easy to imagine someone duplicating the dinner party through the actual recipes at the end. This book earned 3 out of 5 stars and inspired an appetite for insightful law conversation and a delicious meal.

{click here to purchase on Amazon}

Becki Bayley likes feeling the sun on her face, watching butterflies, and reading on her porch. As the days get longer, this finally becomes a possibility. Watch for it to become a reality on Instagram, where she posts as PoshBecki.


One of my lucky readers will win a copy of Justice is Served!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Tuesday, May 2nd, 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!

Justice is Served: A Tale of Scallops, the Law, and Cooking for RBG, by Leslie Karst

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Book Review: The Myth of Perpetual Summer, by Susan Crandall

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Shortly after Ross, Gran, and I arrived at his house, Amelia called. All she would say was that she’d gotten us approved for a visit today and to come right away. The tall, blue-eyed blonde greets us in the lobby of the Orleans Parrish jail. The family resemblance between her and Ross is significant. She’s wearing a black skirt suit and pearls. She looks way too Southern-girl sweet to be the barracuda Ross claims.

After Ross introduces us, she gets right to the point. “We have a serious problem. Walden has refused counsel – mine or anyone else’s. I’m afraid he’ll put up no defense at all.”

“What does that mean?” Gran asks. 

“Unless he changes his mind, I can’t do anything to help him. Hopefully, you two will be able to get him to see reason.”

“Why doesn’t he want to put up a defense?” I ask as we all head toward the door that’ll lead us to my little brother.

“He’s very detached. He’s refusing to participate in a court that has no authority over him or his brothers.”

“Isn’t sitting in jail enough proof that the courts do have authority over them?” I ask.

Tallulah is an amazingly strong character—both as a child and as an adult.

Official synopsis:
Book Review: The Myth of Perpetual Summer, by Susan Crandall
Tallulah James’s parents’ volatile relationship, erratic behavior, and hands-off approach to child rearing set tongues to wagging in their staid Mississippi town, complicating her already uncertain life. She takes the responsibility of shielding her family’s reputation and raising her younger twin siblings onto her youthful shoulders.

If not for the emotional constants of her older brother, Griff, and her old guard Southern grandmother, she would be lost. When betrayal and death arrive hand in hand, she takes to the road, headed to what turns out to be the not-so-promised land of Southern California. The dysfunction of her childhood still echoes throughout her scattered family, sending her brother on a disastrous path and drawing her home again. There she uncovers the secrets and lies that set her family on the road to destruction.

Tallulah as a young child never even knew how hard she had it, because she didn’t know any different. She knew that the townspeople didn’t like her family, but she never really got why. Her grandmother’s instructions were always to be a proper lady and ignore the gossip, so she did her best. When it all finally drove her away, she found herself in California with few friends, which seemed like a great life since she hadn’t had anyone but her brother when they were growing up back in MIssissippi.

Years later, Tallulah feels forced to return to Mississippi in the midst of another family crisis. She had never planned to return, but taking care of her siblings was a hard habit to break. Was Mississippi not just the evil she remembered? As she returns with an adult viewpoint, Tallulah may finally remember some of the good.

Overall, this was a beautiful literary fiction story set in the 1960's and 1970's. Tallulah’s view on racism and war protests added historical insight that undoubtedly had influence on her character’s experiences. The book earned 5 out of 5 stars and would be an enjoyable read for those who enjoy family dramas from this period of time.

{click here to purchase on Amazon}

Becki Bayley is an investigator and legal writer in her professional life. She enjoys unwinding with her kids or some quiet time with a good book. Check out her other reviews on her blog,

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Book Review: An Army of Lies, by Ryan Spell

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

My night hadn’t gone as I expected, but I now knew for sure that we were on the right track. Grant’s phone call confirmed that something bad was going on in that company, and he wanted to make a huge profit off the public offering before anyone found out. He was willing to tell lies and conceal information to protect himself and his company. What else was he willing to do?

As for Vanesa, as long as she continued to text, at least I knew that she was OK. She was conflicted about something, and I thought it had to do with my wife’s murder. I wanted to talk to her, but she would reach out when she was ready, I guess. Besides, I had another murder to solve first.

I called Lewis and filled him in on the fun phone call I received the night before. He asked, “How are we going to handle Grant Dogon? I got your back, Boss, but we need a plan.”

Angelo Barsotti and his best friend Lewis are tenacious and have unique resources between them for solving crimes.

Official synopsis:

Private investigator Angelo Barsotti is just getting by, moonlighting as a bartender at a cop bar and obsessing over the murder of his wife, which he’s been unable to solve for two years. When tech giant Grant Dogon tries to hire him to get his best friend and former platoon comrade, Craig, out of jail, Angelo wants nothing to do with the case. Craig Mazer, who is accused of killing his wife, Helen, has no alibi. But Grant comes bearing a briefcase of cash and a refusal to take no for an answer.

As Angelo reluctantly investigates the case, with his enthusiastic associate and friend, Lewis, all roads lead to Dogon Tech, where Craig works for Grant. Why is a tech security firm having so many security breaches of its own? What is Grant hiding before the company’s public offering? As Angelo tries to uncover these secrets, he’s met with lie after lie. Is he putting himself and others in danger by pursuing this angle?

While working this case, new clues about Angelo’s wife emerge from an unexpected source, but he must solve who killed Helen Mazer first. Will Angelo be able to see through the lies to find the truth and finally solve what happened to his wife?

Angelo’s heart isn’t in much since his wife was murdered. He’s been successfully completing investigations since elementary school, but is struggling with the one which would mean the most—his own wife’s murder. He’s reluctant to take on a new case, but Grant Dogon keeps coming back with a briefcase of cash. Dogon’s convinced the police have arrested the wrong guy for another murder. 

While Angelo finally works the case like he does all the cases to which he commits, it soon becomes apparent that the guy with the money only wants one crime solved, and no more uncovered. Unfortunately for him, that’s not how Angelo and his crime-solving partner work.

Along the way, Angelo and Lewis are introduced to an attractive attorney who was also working for their client. It’s almost too much distraction when she leads Angelo to believe she may know more about his wife’s murder as well. But no one will know how that plays out until the next book in the Angelo Barsotti Novel series!

This engaging read offered quick chapters, fun and intelligent characters, and a mystery without an obvious solution. The ending could have gone a few different ways, any of which could have made sense. The tangled web played a lot on the back stories of the characters, which only seems right since the back story of the main character may be the next mystery to solve. This novel earned 4 out of 5 stars and would be recommended for those who enjoy contemporary mysteries and private investigator stories.

{click here to purchase on Amazon}

Check out Becki Bayley's other book reviews at her blog,

Monday, April 3, 2023

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Last Beekeeper, by Julie Carrick Dalton {ends 4/10}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

“Look at this fucking place.” Ian gestured to the greenhouse. “We produce tons of food. But the people in the camps are starving to death. Why are we even doing this?”

“Because we don’t have a better option,” Gino said.

A tattered banner reading A GRATEFUL NATION THANKS YOU! fluttered above the expanse of double doors leading into a two-story glass atrium with a security check, and two corridors: one leading to the offices, the other to the greenhouses. A community bulletin board overflowed with flyers advertising items to trade. Employees were forbidden from advertising items for cash sale, so they bartered. Vegetables for a mattress. Haircuts for a bike chain.

Missing posters, some brand-new and others worn, dotted the board. An ad for haircuts in exchange for dried beans covers the face of a young woman who had gone missing weeks earlier. Sasha recognized her face from the greenhouse where Halle worked.

We’ve already been told how much devastation would result if the bees went extinct, but this book really looks at a world without the bees.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and Giveaway: The Last Beekeeper, by Julie Carrick Dalton
It’s been more than a decade since the world has come undone, and Sasha Severn has returned to her childhood home with one goal in mind―find the mythic research her father, the infamous Last Beekeeper, hid before he was incarcerated. There, Sasha is confronted with a group of squatters who have claimed the quiet, idyllic farm as their own. While she initially feels threatened, the group soon becomes her newfound family, offering what she hasn't felt since her father was imprisoned: security and hope. Maybe it's time to forget the family secrets buried on the farm and focus on her future.

But just as she settles into her new life, Sasha witnesses the impossible. She sees a honey bee, presumed extinct. People who claim to see bees are ridiculed and silenced for reasons Sasha doesn't understand, but she can't shake the feeling that this impossible bee is connected to her father's missing research. Fighting to uncover the truth could shatter Sasha's fragile security and threaten the lives of her newfound family―or it could save them all.

Sasha wants to solve the mystery of what her father was hiding and why he chose to go to prison and leave her alone. But maybe even more, she wants to feel a part of a loving family again. Her family started out as her and her parentssturdy and dependable. Then her mother died. And then her father chose to protect the bees instead of her, and since she was only 11 years old or so at the time, she’s not sure why the only parent left to her would choose to leave her alone.

After more than 10 years, most of it in state care, Sasha has returned to her family home to find an odd assortment of four squatters. While her first reaction isn’t positive, she grows to care about these people and hope that they’ll continue to include her even if they find out the truth about who she really is. Eventually, of course, the truth will come out, and Sasha isn’t sure which version of her life needs to be saved and protected.

For a young adult to choose between saving their dreams or attempting to save the world, the story is sure to be an emotional one. This book was beautifully written and fully deserving of 5 out of 5 stars. It could be recommended to those who enjoy family dramas and dystopian tales. 

{click here to purchase on Amazon}

Becki Bayley likes being warm and cozy, and enjoys listening to music, petting cats, and munching on appetizers while reading. Check out her other book reviews at her blog,


One of my lucky readers will win a copy of The Last Beekeeper!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Monday, April 10th, 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 Last Beekeeper, by Julie Carrick Dalton

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