Monday, October 30, 2023

Book Review: For Girls Who Walk Through Fire, by Kim DeRose

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Bea was surprised to find that, despite casting her revenge spell, she’d yet to reduce her anxiety or remove him from her life. If anything, in a weird way, it felt as if he’d been drawn in closer.

Her mom now talked about him all the time, updating the family at dinner on his status, fretting over his health and what it might mean for Margaret and the kids, worrying about how this would impact the trajectory of his career, thinking up ways to help their family out. Just hearing his name was triggering enough, but to listen to all that sympathy made Bea want to scream at the top of her lungs.

And apparently, she wasn’t the only one.

“We should really go bring Margaret and the kids a meal,” her mom suggested at dinner one evening. “And just sit with them and spend some time distracting the kids. Also, I think it would be good for all of us to go visit Michael in the hospital.”

“Jesus! Mom!” Otis finally snapped. And then caught himself when Bea kicked him under the table. He glanced up apologetically.

Four girls from a victim’s support group find a way to really make a difference in their abusers’ lives. But will it really make a difference for their emotional burdens?

Official synopsis:
Book Review: For Girls Who Walk Through Fire, by Kim DeRose
Elliott D’Angelo-Brandt is sick and tired of putting up with it all. Every week, she attends a support group for teen victims of sexual assault, but all they do is talk. Elliott’s done with talking. What she wants is justice.

And she has a plan for getting it: a spell book that she found in her late mom’s belongings that actually works. Elliott recruits a coven of fellow survivors from the group. She, Madeline, Chloe, and Bea don’t have much in common, but they are united in their rage at a system that heaps judgments on victims and never seems to punish those who deserve it.

As they each take a turn casting a hex against their unrepentant assailants, the girls find themselves leaning on each other in ways they never expected—and realizing that revenge has heavy implications. Each member of the coven will have to make a choice: continue down the path of magical vigilantism or discover what it truly means to claim their power.

This book really looked at whether revenge is what helps someone move on. When Elliott, Madeline, Chloe, and Bea join forces to become a coven that can exact revenge on those who hurt them and changed their lives forever, they’re willing to pay almost any price for the satisfaction of seeing their abusers suffer. But as their side effects get worse, and they see others paying the price owed by their abusers, they get a chance to look at not what they’re owed, but what might really make them feel better.

Each of the girls had her own backstory, coping mechanisms, and ideal concept of revenge. Their responses to how well their spells worked also made each of them more individual. It was easy to imagine many of their responses as realistic. The book was definitely worth 4 out of 5 stars, and the ending was not easily predictable. This would be an enjoyable read to those who like witchy stories, vigilante justice, and a little bit of family-style drama thrown in.

{click here to purchase on Amazon, only $8.99 on Kindle - affiliate link}

Becki Bayley is a Gemini who enjoys reading (obviously), cozy hoodies, and snuggling with her cats. Check out more of what she’s up to on Instagram, where she posts as PoshBecki.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Book Review: Kill for Love, by Laura Picklesimer

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

I soon had to put aside the changing dynamics of the sorority house for other practicalities. Weston’s birthday was only two weeks away. Mine wouldn’t arrive until August, and it sucked that his would come so soon after we had started dating. We were two and a half months into our relationship, long enough that I’d need to do something to celebrate, but short enough that it couldn’t be too extravagant, or it might make me seem desperate. TikTok devoted whole tutorial videos to this delicate balance.

To put even more pressure on, Weston had informed me over dinner that three of his fraternity brothers from back East would be visiting for his birthday weekend.

One of my favorite things about Weston (right below his chiseled cheekbones and GQ-quality physique) was that he didn’t have too many friends. He was still new to L.A. I kept forgetting until he’d drop some bombshell, like that he’d never been to Coachella.

Tiffany would do anything for a good time. Some would call it "dying" for a good time, but in Tiffany’s case, it’s "killing."

Official synopsis:
Book Review: Kill for Love, by Laura Picklesimer
Kill for Love is a searing satirical thriller about Tiffany, a privileged Los Angeles sorority sister who is struggling to keep her sadistic impulses—and haunting nightmares of fire and destruction—at bay. After a frat party hookup devolves into a bloody, fatal affair, Tiffany realizes something within her has awoken: the insatiable desire to kill attractive young men. 

As Tiffany’s bloodlust deepens and the bodies pile up, she must contend with mounting legal scrutiny, social media-fueled competing murders, and her growing relationship with Weston, who she thinks could be the perfect boyfriend. A female-driven, modern-day
American Psycho, Kill for Love exposes modern toxic plasticity with dark comedy and propulsive plot. 

It seems Tiffany should have been less likable as a character, but girls just wanna have fun, right? A completely spoiled sorority girl with no real purpose in her life or dreams, when she randomly gives in to her urge to kill, her nightmares stop, and she feels something that seems pleasant in her life for the first time she can remember. 

This was definitely an amusing read with some fun vigilante justice, well, except for the victims. The ending was a bit surprising but not out of character for Tiffany. The story could be recommended for those who can appreciate a sarcastically jaded and spoiled main character, and make some allowances for how someone like that may act in an exaggerated and extreme plot. Overall, the book earned 3 out of 5 stars.

{click here to purchase via my Amazon affiliate link}

Becki Bayley is a suburban wife, mom, and school volunteer. She’s equally comfortable singing Disney showtunes or emotional female rage songs. Check out some of her other activities on Instagram where she posts as PoshBecki.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Book Review and GIVEAWAY - Happy AF: Simple strategies to get unstuck, bounce back, and live your best life, by Beth Romero {ends 10/22}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

While the pen may be mightier than the sword, it looks like the Polaroid out-champs the ballpoint—at least from a neuro-scientific perspective. Pictures speak far more effectively to the brain’s subconscious than language. Images can bypass the cerebral cortex, where language is processed, and engage directly with the intuitive and visual parts of the brain. In other words, they skip the line and head straight to VIP.

Images speak louder than words. Given our social media-obsessed world where the mantra is “pics or it didn’t happen,” let’s apply that same philosophy to images far more significant than the well-plated dinner, gym workout, or the endless summer of selfies—images not of the here-and-now, but of our visions for the future. Let’s invest some time and imagery in the power of yet. It’s far more fulfilling than pics of your manicure, promise. 

A lot of the self-help lingo was familiar, but it’s always good to hear a new take and description on something that can really help, if presented in a potentially new way.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY - Happy AF: Simple strategies to get unstuck, bounce back, and live your best life, by Beth Romero {ends 10/22}
Happy AF is your comprehensive roadmap for happiness. Drawing heavily from neuroscience, positive psychology, and behavioral science, the straightforward strategies and exercises in this how-to guide will teach you how to strengthen your happiness muscle and live up to your greatest potential. Happiness junky Beth Romero serves up a life-affirming parable laced with contextual how-tos—all backed by clinical research—in fresh, insightful, and accessible language you can relate to. Kinda like your best friend giving it to you straight (with love) over cocktails. In this book, you will discover:

* the art of letting go
* proven ways to jiu-jitsu your negative thoughts to transform your life
* how goals, vision, purpose are the stepping-stones to greatness
* the importance of gratitude and grace in your happiness journey
* the scientific link between sleep, morning routines, diet, and exercise on your mental well-being
* and much, much more!

Happiness is a choice—and it’s within your reach. If you do the work. If you believe. Much like Dorothy with her ruby slippers, the power is always within you . . . just waiting for you to access it. So get ready to click your Manolos, Dr. Martens, or Adidas and find your happy place.

The author did a compelling job of laying out info that certainly wasn’t new in an engaging way, and with lots of research to back it up. Starting with her own decline during the pandemic, she then vividly tells about recognizing how she got there and the steps she took to get her life back on track.

While different approaches are suggested, the author tries to be convincing in her assertion that SOMETHING will work for each reader. The path to happiness is never a one-size-fits-all, but the finish line is eventually attainable for everyone.

Overall this book earned 4 out of 5 stars, with interesting scientific details supporting the benefits of happiness and the attempts to get there, and three different sets of action steps at the end of each chapter. This would be a good book for someone looking for a bit of empathy and a boost toward making their daily life happier and overcoming circumstances that have gotten them down.

{click here to purchase on Amazon}

Becki Bayley is a Gemini who loves autumn, warm sun, and dark painted fingernails. Check out more of her book reviews and other escapades on her blog,


One of my lucky readers will win a copy of Happy AF!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Sunday, October 22nd, at 11:59pm ET, 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!

Happy AF, by Beth Romero

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Glory Be, by Danielle Arceneaux {ends 10/19}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

The town of Scott, Louisiana, hadn’t changed much from the days Glory and Amity would run around town in scuffed Mary Janes and starched pinafores. No one had bothered to tear down the defunct cotton gin, the gray metal building that stood on stilts with the rusted red roof. The town was stuck in time, but an awful moment in time. A time its black residents would rather not revisit and its white residents would rather pretend  didn’t happen at all. 

Delphine crossed the train tracks and drove by the old pharmacy with the Rexall sign that could have been from the 1950s, or even earlier. Electrical wiring draped from pole to pole on each street, which were lined with tidy but old single-story homes with flat roofs.

Glory Broussard is shocked when her childhood friend who is now a nun is found dead, and the authorities immediately decide no investigation is needed for an apparent suicide.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Glory Be, by Danielle Arceneaux {ends 10/19}
It’s a hot and sticky Sunday in Lafayette, Louisiana, and Glory has settled into her usual after-church routine, meeting gamblers at the local coffee shop, where she works as a small-time bookie. Sitting at her corner table, Glory hears that her best friend—a nun beloved by the community—has been found dead in her apartment.

When police declare the mysterious death a suicide, Glory is convinced that there must be more to the story. With her reluctant daughter—who has troubles of her own—in tow, Glory launches a shadow investigation into Lafayette’s oil tycoons, church gossips, a rumored voodoo priestess, nosey neighbors, and longtime ne'er-do wells.

As a Black woman of a certain age who grew up in a segregated Louisiana, Glory is used to being minimized and overlooked. But she’s determined to make her presence known as the case leads her deep into a web of intrigue she never realized Lafayette could harbor.

Glory is used to being fiercely independent. Her ex-husband is finally gone, and her daughter is a successful attorney in New York. When Glory’s best friend, Sister Amity, is found dead, Glory’s daughter, Delphine, comes back to town to attend the funeral. Luckily she has some extra time to stick around and help Glory get her life back on track.

Delphine is soon involved with not only helping Glory find out who has been reporting her house to the city as uninhabitable, but she may also be growing more convinced by Glory’s insistence that Sister Amity’s death was suspicious. While Delphine is originally staying in Louisiana to avoid some of her own life, it turns out some of her relationships from her youth could still be waiting to pick up where they left off.

As the first book of the Glory Broussard Mystery series, this book set up several key players and relationships with potential for growth and more interactions. This book was 3 out of 5 stars, as getting to know about the characters showed a lot of their good qualities and their opportunities for growth. When Glory and Delphine didn’t get along as well in the beginning of the story, neither of them were very likable. This would definitely be a book enjoyed by those who like light-hearted family dramas, cozy mysteries, and fun series about Louisiana life. 

{click here to purchase on Amazon}

Becki Bayley enjoys keeping her feet warm, feeling the sun on her skin, and uninterrupted sleep. Check out some of her random moments on Instagram where she posts as PoshBecki.


One of my lucky readers will win a copy of Glory Be!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Thursday, October 19th, at 11:59pm ET, 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!

Glory Be, by Danielle Arceneaux

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Book Review: The Key to My Heart, by Lia Louis

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Today is one of those classic, airless summer days that turn London into a raging furnace and morph every resident into a grumpy expert on historical architecture. These buildings were just not built for these temperatures. No tiles, no air-con! British houses keep heat in, they don’t let it out! The rehearsal rooms at music therapy as expected were unbearable this morning, and I lasted all of seven minutes in The Smelly Room, which smelled like passing a landfill on a motorway. Joe had arrived in the final minute, poking his head around the door. “Sort of ironic that this is therapy,” he said, “today it’s more like a Bear Grylls challenge.”

After the session, we decided that instead of grabbing coffee, we needed something cold, so we ordered iced teas to take away from an empty, just-opened juice bar. A lone photographer from a local paper stood snapping the balloon-arched entranceway on the street, and to mark the opening day, a woman behind the counter had flirtily leaned and slid novelty straw spectacles onto Joe’s expressionless face.

Natalie isn’t sure if her grieving will ever end, but she can’t even remember how her life would be different without it. 

Official synopsis:

Book Review: The Key to My Heart, by Lia Louis
Sparkly and charming Natalie Fincher has it all—a handsome new husband, a fixer-upper cottage of her dreams, and the opportunity to tour with the musical she’s spent years writing. But when her husband suddenly dies, all her hopes and dreams instantly disappear.

Two and a half years later, Natalie is still lost. She works, sleeps (well, as much as the sexually frustrated village foxes will allow), and sees friends just often enough to allay their worries, but her life is empty. And she can only bring herself to play music at a London train station’s public piano where she can be anonymous. She’s lost motivation, faith in love, in happiness…in everything.

But when someone begins to mysteriously leave the sheet music for her husband’s favorite songs at the station’s piano, Natalie begins to feel a sense of hope and excitement for the first time. As she investigates just who could be doing this, Natalie finds herself on an unexpected journey toward newfound love for herself, for life, and maybe, for a special someone.

Natalie isn’t really worried about her life since her husband Russ died. She just goes on existing. She has the folks she visits at the coffee shop, and she finds some solace in playing the piano at the train station. Everyone else seems to want her to have more, but it’s not their life, is it?

Eventually the time comes where she finds herself somehow moving on. A practically required night out with her friends introduces her to Tom, who keeps turning up even though she had never noticed him before, and then a recommended music therapy group has her spending time with Joe, who she does recognize as being around before, but always as part of the background in her predictable life.

This charming and unique story earned 4 out of 5 stars. As a young widow, Natalie wasn’t the usual young-ish woman searching for love at the bars with her friends. Her friends were having babies and living their full, developing adult lives, and she wasn’t sure where that left her. She didn’t want a new love, she wanted what she already had with her husband, but she now had to move on without him. Her reluctance to accept the life she truly had to deal with now was just part of her appeal. The details of the ending were somewhat unexpected in a pleasant way.  This is a great and heartwarming book with likable characters who each had their own flaws. The story could be enthusiastically enjoyed by those who enjoy family dramas, starting over, and interesting ideas of where love may be found.

{click here to purchase on Amazon - only $5.99 on audiobook as of this writing}

Becki Bayley is a wife, mom, and reader who tries to find a little more spare time to indulge her kids’ love of theater, robotics, and D&D. Check out some of their adventures on her blog,

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