Thursday, May 25, 2023

The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Brammer

Release Date - May 9, 2023

Genre - General Fiction, Women's Fiction, Contemporary Romance

Clover's life has always been intertwined with death. As a kindergartener, her teacher dropped dead in front of the class. Her parents died when she was a child, so her journey brought her to New York City to live with her grandfather, a man who would become her everything. When she was a young adult and exploring the world, he passed away alone in his office.

She's never gotten past the fact that he died alone, and that's what led her to become a death doula, a job that few people understand, so it limits her friendships. Her latest client has amazing stories to tell, and one of them involves the man who got away. Clover sets off on a trip to find that man and see if she can bring peace to her client before she passes. It's this trip and this women who have Clover reevaluating her life and what she wants most.

I've sat with both of my parents as they died, and the role of a death doula is one that I highly admire. I felt an instant connection with Clover and was drawn into her story because of it. I loved watching her grow and come to terms with her losses and future. It was heartwarming. With a touch of romance, a lot of emotion, and an excellent look at living life to its fullest, this is one of my favorite books so far this year.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Adelaide by Genevieve Wheeler

Release Date - April 18, 2023

Genre - Women's Fiction

Adelaide is an American living her best life in England. Londoner Rory Hughes is everything she could ever imagine in a man. He's charming, sexy, and she's quickly falling in love with him. Only tragic events change him and even Adelaide is having a hard time getting back the Rory she wants. But, what is it going to cost her to save him?

Adelaide is very much a book about mental health, romance, and the chance for do-overs. It's dark, light, and very hard to put down. Don't put it down or let the darkness keep you from reading. It's very much worth the time.

The writing is fluid and starts in the past, goes farther into the past, and then brings readers to the future. It's that future where you become so happy you stuck with Adelaide, her views on love, and her quest for the man who will win her heart for life. 

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Places I Never Meant to Be - Edited by Judy Blume

Release Date - 1999

Genre - Anthology

I'm angry. For the first time in 20+ years, I am close to giving up reviewing books. Why bother? A week or so ago, I got a notification that a review of mine was being taken down as the content was anti-Google policies. Why? It was a fictional young adult book about trafficking. Something that happens daily. Something I despise, but my not liking it doesn't make it go away. 

I'd picked up a copy of Places I Never Meant to Be many years ago at a library book sale. There's never been a more fitting time to review this book. It's a series of short stories all written by authors who have faced book bans. One of my favorites, Judy Blume, edited the book. Dr. Seuss turned me into a life-long reader, but Judy Blume, Lois Duncan, Stephen King, and Dean Koontz all sparked the flames into a fire that hasn't slowed down. 

Julius Lester said: "Censorship is an attitude of mistrust and suspicion that seeks to deprive the human experience of mystery and complexity. But, without mystery and complexity there is no wonder; there is no awe; there is no laughter." 

Book banning is a very hot topic again, and it's one that frustrates me. Imagine a world where a handful of people came to your home and told you that you couldn't take your children to church anymore. They couldn't attend church until they were 18 or even 21, a legal adult and able to make their own decisions and frame their own beliefs. You'd be outraged that someone outside of your home was trying to tell you how to raise your kids.

When my daughter was in third grade, she was told she could not read "We Are Witnesses," non-fiction stories of teens who died in the Holocaust. It was "too distressing" and "cruel." Yeah, so was the Holocaust, but my kids learned the cold, sad truth of racism, suspicious, and heinous behaviors. I got her a copy and encouraged her to read it. I had to do the same thing with my son and Lemony Snicket and Harry Potter books. Lemony Snicket was full of child abuse. Harry Potter - "Magic and sorcery are bad M'kay?"

The older I get, the more disappointed I get. From Tipper Gore trying to ban music, (and a bit hypocritical given that she played with the Grateful Dead and Willie Nelson) to modern book bans, I wonder if it will ever be enough. All I can do is support authors who are find their books yanked from school shelves and hope others will do the same. 

Places I Never Meant to Be has exceptional stories with timely topics like teen sex, crime, racism, etc. and is well worth your time.


Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Uncharted: A Culinary Adventure With 60 Recipes From Around the Globe by Gordon Ramsay

Genre: Cookbook, World Travels
Release Date: April 25, 2023

Note: This review is based on a partial ARC and not the full book. A free section was provided by the publisher through Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

I'm a fan of Gordon Ramsay, but not the Hell's Kitchen celebrity. He's reality show fake and unappreciated in my home. It's the British show, The F Word, that drew me into his world and made me realize he's great with his kids and can be very genuine and enjoyable. I started watching Uncharted for that reason. His episode in Maine was fantastic and brought me to many familiar areas.

The travels he does on Uncharted are showcased in this National Geographic release. It offers 60 recipes from different regions of the world, ranging from Tasmania to Louisiana. While I didn't get to see the chapter on Maine, it is in this book. 

The photography is lush, the recipes offer a decent mix of sides and mains, including dishes like honey-roasted potatoes in duckfat. I loved the sample chapter I got, but it was a lot of the things I've seen on the show. It's a good companion guide, but I can and have taken what I see and come up with recipes. If you're buying this book solely for the recipes, you need to be aware that it's far more about the people and foods in those regions than it is the recipes. 

Next Girl to Die - Dea Poirier

Genre: Mystery, Serial Killers

Release Date: May 1, 2019

Four years ago, I couldn't get into Next Girl to Die. I don't ever completely give up. I do like to circle back. This time, I found myself far happier with the main character's mood and dislike of the small Maine community she fled.

It's been 15 years since Claire Calderwood left Maine for Detroit, and she's thrown herself into her work. She gets a call from the police chief that another body has been dumped in the park, and the murder is very, very similar to the murder of her sister so many years ago. When Rachel was murdered, Claire's life changed. She hid secrets then and realizes that with what she does know, she may be able to solve these cases and finally bring her sister's murderer to justice.

Bodies start turning up at a faster rate, and a very nosy investigative reporter keeps butting his way into each one. Noah is the last thing Claire needs standing in her way, but his sleuthing is also undeniably good, and when it's announced that she needs to let him work on the case, too, the pair put their heads together to solve the murders that are clearly the work of a serial killer.

Maine is the place where I feel most at peace, so I was instantly drawn to the setting. I had a few suspicions and was pleasantly surprised that my initial guesses were incorrect. It's uncommon for me to not figure out the killer's identity, so this was a nice treat. As more evidence was uncovered, I got to look back over the full picture with Claire.

I did find a few issues. One of the biggest is why a lead homicide detective in Detroit would willingly walk away from the job to go back to a hometown that was hated in such a rushed way. I mean, I assumed clearance and time off was given, but it was seriously a case of she was asked and split for Maine in a snap, dropping everything in the process, which seemed very hard to believe. She left a permanent job for a quick gig in a town she hated? I'm not sure I buy it.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Wasteland by John G. Doyle

Genre: Apocalyptic Fiction, Sci-Fi, Time Travel

Release Date: January 5, 2021

Wasteland is the second book in the Phoenix Cycle Series by John G. Doyle. If you've discovered his TikTok videos, you'll know who he is and have a good understanding of his wit. It's that wit that led me to his books, and the more I read, the more I cast him and certain friends in the different roles. I'm sorry, but I think we all know who the real Viking goddess is! Actually, I'm not sorry at all, and all fans know she is.

Now, if you haven't read the first book in the series, stop and read that first. Otherwise, you'll be exposed to a few spoilers.


When we last saw Jericho Johnson, he was in bad shape having been defeated. He wakes up three years later, strapped to a table in Arizona in the year 2344. While he was in bad shape, he's been patched up by the nefarious Dr. Cross, and he's now in possession of several man-made components that haven't truly been tested. He is - in a nutshell - a real life Superman.

Now, Jericho feels horrible for leaving his Viking love interest in the future and abandoning her for three years. He is hopeful that he'll encounter her again, but he's mostly on a mission to find his the gauntlet so that he can travel back to his time. But, this means a trip to Alaska in an apocalyptic landscape with a new group of associates. 

I never expected to love Wasteland more than the first, but this book is so much better. I didn't even realize there was room for improvement, minus a few of the grammar/typo issues from the first book that were easily moved past. There probably were some in Wasteland, but I was so invested in the characters that I didn't pay attention. 

I adored Blu. I couldn't get enough of her and spent a lot of time laughing at her quips. I felt like Jericho was an old pal at this point, even though I'm still old enough to be his mother... It didn't matter, he's just so likable. 

I have book three ready to go, but it's a rough time of year as this is the flood of my dad had a stroke, their anniversary hits, my mom's birthday hits, and neither of them are alive anymore, no thanks to brain cancer, stroke, and Alzheimer's. For now, I'm letting my mood pass before I delve into Jericho's next chapter. I know it will be fantastic.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Everything She Feared by Rick Mofina

Release Date - April 11, 2023

Genre - Suspense, Mystery/Thriller

Nine-year-old Katie Harmon's babysitter falls off the edge of a cliff while taking a selfie on their outing. Evidence, however, suggests that Anna's death may not have been a tragic accident. Instead, a shrewd detective is convinced there's more to the story and that someone killed Anna. As Katie was the only one with her, it has to have been Katie.

Sara, Katie's mom, is terrified that her daughter is being suspected of murder, but she also has another fear. There are things that Sara knows of her past that she doesn't want anyone to figure out, and their sudden media status is making it very hard to keep old secrets. Sara is afraid her daughter may be a ruthless killer, but she also knows this is the daughter she loves who she could never believe would do wrong. But, are her instincts right or is she projecting her past onto her daughter's present and future?

Everything She Feared wasn't baffling to me. I had my suspicions from the start, I just needed all of the key players. Yet, even though I was pretty certain what happened, I never once felt that the story needed to rush along to see if I was correct. I loved watching it play out.

I've read and enjoyed many other Rick Mofina novels, and this is another excellent addition to his catalog. It's an engaging, suspenseful story that does keep you hooked.

The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Brammer

Release Date - May 9, 2023 Genre - General Fiction, Women's Fiction, Contemporary Romance Clover's life has always been intertwined ...