Thursday, December 14, 2023

Book Review: Touch of Gold, by Annie Sullivan

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Royce takes his seat in the boat opposite me.

“Did you get everything we needed?” he asks Phipps as though he hasn’t just left a man behind to die.

“Aye, Captain,” Phipps says. He pats the massive amount of sail filling up the majority of the longboat. If he finds it odd Aris isn’t with us, he doesn’t mention it.

None of them do.

“Where’s Thipps?” Phipps asks.

There’s frantic movement in the boat followed by a gasp when his eyes land on his brother’s body, laid out on another new sail folded in the front of the boat. I look away.

“He saved the princess,” Royce says quietly.

“No,” Phipps whispers. He falls to his knees next to his brother’s form. “Thipps. Come on, Thipps.” He pulls on the collar of his shirt, yanking him up. Thipps’s head rolls backward.

“He’s gone,” Royce says in a gentle tone I’ve never heard from him before.

Kora doesn’t go outside the palace anymore, as she’s been convinced that her father’s curse will ruin everyone’s life the way it has ruined hers.

Official synopsis:
Book Review: Touch of Gold, by Annie Sullivan
After King Midas’s gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, he relinquished The Touch forever. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbors secret powers that are getting harder to hide.

Kora spends her days concealed behind gloves and veils. It isn’t until a charming duke arrives that Kora believes she could indeed be loved. But their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals treasures her father needs to survive. Thanks to Kora’s unique ability to sense gold, she sails off on her quest to find the missing items.

While Kora never expected to leave the palace, when her father’s life is at stake, she’s the only one who can find the missing gold and save his life. While she initially expects everyone to fear her or exploit her, she finds out that the small circle of people who have populated her life may not be exactly who she thought. And perhaps there are some truly good people out in the world who she would benefit from and enjoy knowing.

Kora and her cousin Hettie go off on the adventure of their lives and learn more about themselves and each other than they thought possible. Their first instinct, of course, is to only trust each other, but circumstances will force them to re-evaluate where their loyalties should lie. Peoples’ response to The Midas Touch may sometimes tell them all they need to know.

This book earned 4 out of 5 stars and is a great middle-grade retelling of a classic fairy tale from a unique perspective. King Midas’s golden touch has also changed every aspect of his daughter Kora’s life, and she’ll never forget that a gift from Dionysus is never as it seems. This book would be recommended for those who like classic stories from different viewpoints and sharing different emphasis.

{click here to purchase using my Amazon Affiliate link - Touch of Gold is part of a two-book series}

Becki Bayley is a wife, mother, and aunt who enjoys relaxing with a book and learning about what everyone else likes to read. Check out other book and life reviews on her blog,

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Book Review: No One Knows Us Here, by Rebecca Kelley

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Leo wanted me to show him the knives myself, but we needed someone to open up the display case with a key. He went to find someone and returned with…Margorie. I felt heat rise up my face, all the way up to my ears.

Margorie approached the case, her keys jingling in an exaggerated way. She acted like she didn’t recognize me, or like she didn’t know me at all. And god. She was right. She didn’t know me.

Or she did know. She knew everything the minute I – dressed in a tight velvet dress – waltzed into the store with the man I said was my boss. She knew then that there was no boyfriend in San Francisco. Only this.

“My girlfriend wants to give me the sales pitch,” he said to Margorie as she twisted the key in the lock and opened up the case. “She used to work here.”

Rosemary thinks she’s found her big break. She’s willing to do anything for her sister, and eventually, she has to prove it.

Official synopsis:
Book Review: No One Knows Us Here, by Rebecca Kelley
Rosemary Rabourne is already struggling to pay the bills when her recently orphaned half sister, Wendy, shows up at her door. Rosemary will try anything to provide for the traumatized teenager—including offering her services as a high-end escort.

Leo Glass is the billionaire CEO of a revolutionary social app. He wants the “girlfriend experience”—someone contractually obligated to love him—and he thinks he’s found the perfect match in Rosemary. His proposition has its perks: a luxury apartment and financial security. And its conditions: constant surveillance and availability whenever Leo calls. It’s not the life Rosemary wants, but she’s out of options.

Then she meets her new neighbor, Sam, a musician with whom Rosemary shares an immediate attraction and a genuine intimacy she’s never felt with anyone. Falling in love makes it possible to imagine a real new life. But Leo won’t let go of her that easily, and his need for control escalates. So does Rosemary’s desperation—to protect Wendy, to protect herself, and, at any price, to escape.

Rosemary is old enough to know that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. But when she is struggling to keep a roof over her own head while going to school, and then her young sister shows up threatening self-harm if Rosemary doesn’t take her in, desperation takes over. 

This book felt like a lot of information, between the backstory for Rosemary and Wendy, to a sort of glossing over of Rosemary’s life between her childhood and when she meets Leo Glass, to her divided life while "dating" Leo Glass. She made it clear that she was playing a role with him, but what an engrossing role to play. While it wasn’t clear if she was still going to school or just waiting til the year was over, her time without him felt almost pointless. Having to be prepared for him to summon her meant she never could really just relax and be herself.

Overall, the book was an interesting perspective of a situation that sounds like it maybe could be realistic, but still hard to imagine. The story earned 3 out of 5 stars and would be good for those who enjoy psychological thrillers combined with a bit of family drama. 

{click here to purchase via Amazon Affiliate link; currently FREE for Kindle Unlimited users}

Becki Bayley is a Gemini who enjoys relaxing with a good book, a salty snack, and a refreshing beverage. When she’s not at work writing responses to complaints, find her carting her kids around or finding a few minutes to read in a cozy spot. Check out more reviews and adventures on her blog,

Monday, December 4, 2023

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Calico, by Lee Goldberg {ends 12/11}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Friday, February 8, 2019

Beth met Selma Neary, head of the San Bernardino County historical society, in her office at the county museum in Redlands. The tiny office was filled with books, overflowing from sagging shelves and in stacks that had collapsed into a giant pile. There was barely room for a desk, two chairs, and the two women.

‘You’re a homicide detective?’ Neary asked.

‘That’s right,’ Beth said. ‘We found a dead body in a hundred-year-old grave on land in Newberry Springs that was once home to the Cartwright family.’

Neary smiled, her pearl necklace disappearing in the folds of her neck. ‘It’s a little late to bring the felon to justice.’

‘This man was killed a week ago and buried in an old casket,’ Beth said. ‘I’m wondering if there might be some connection between the victim and the Cartwright family or at least that bit of land.’

‘Unfortunately, Calico burned to the ground twice, destroying most of the legal records, and almost every issue of the Calico Print newspaper, so much of the town’s history, outside of the mining activity, is lost. What little we know about the daily lives of any individuals comes from letters, a few diaries, and a dozen surviving issues of the Calico Print.’

‘Anything you can tell me will be helpful,’ Beth said.

Beth is determined to make conclusions based on the facts of her investigation, but this time the facts are a little hard to believe.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Calico, by Lee Goldberg {ends 12/11}
There's a saying in Barstow, California, a decaying city in the scorching Mojave desert . . .

The Interstate here only goes in one direction: Away.

But it's the only place where ex-LAPD detective Beth McDade, after a staggering fall from grace, could get another badge . . . and a shot at redemption.

Over a century ago, and just a few miles further into the bleak landscape, a desperate stranger ended up in Calico, a struggling mining town, also hoping for a second chance.

His fate, all those years ago, and hers today are linked when Beth investigates an old skeleton dug up in a shallow, sandy grave . . . and also tries to identity a vagrant run-over by a distracted motorhome driver during a lightning storm.

Every disturbing clue she finds, every shocking discovery she makes, force Beth to confront her own troubled past . . . and a past that's not her own . . . until it all smashes together in a revelation that could change the world.

This was definitely different from the author’s previous works, but in this reader’s opinion, they nailed it! Beth was a reasonably successful LAPD detective, but bad choices led to her disgraceful exit from the department. In Barstow, the biggest risk to her career may be dying from boredom, but she still tries to do her best to uphold the law, especially for the victims—they deserve the truth, and justice.

A missing person case from the LAPD seems to leave a trail right through Beth’s Barstow jurisdiction, so she’s determined to find out what really happened, no matter how unlikely that story seems to be. She knows her career (and maybe her sanity) are at stake, so she needs to not just uncover the truth, but have solid proof.

This unique cross between a sci-fi sort of story with a built in police procedural was an excellent read. It earned 5 out of 5 stars and should be shared immediately with those who enjoy a realistically-told science fiction story. Could it be true? It’s up to each reader to decide whether they think it could be possible.

{click here to purchase on Amazon - affiliate link}

Becki Bayley is a Gemini who enjoys theater, reading, and a mid-afternoon nap in the sun. Check out what else she’s reading and her family’s adventures on her blog,


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

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Monday, December 11th, at 11:59pm ET, and the 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!

Calico, by Lee Goldberg

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