addiction · book review · books · Family · Historical fiction · Literary Fiction · love · own voices review · reading · secrets

In West Mills by De’Shawn Charles Winslow {Review}

Blurb:

Azalea “Knot” Centre is determined to live life as she pleases. Let the people of West Mills say what they will; the neighbors’ gossip won’t keep Knot from what she loves best: cheap moonshine, nineteenth-century literature, and the company of men. And yet, Knot is starting to learn that her freedom comes at a high price. Alone in her one-room shack, ostracized from her relatives and cut off from her hometown, Knot turns to her neighbor, Otis Lee Loving, in search of some semblance of family and home.

Otis Lee is eager to help. A lifelong fixer, Otis Lee is determined to steer his friends and family away from decisions that will cause them heartache and ridicule. After his failed attempt as a teenager to help his older sister, Otis Lee discovers a possible path to redemption in the chaos Knot brings to his doorstep. But while he’s busy trying to fix Knot’s life, Otis Lee finds himself powerless to repair the many troubles within his own family, as the long-buried secrets of his troubled past begin to come to light.

Set in an African American community in rural North Carolina from 1941 to 1987, In West Mills is a magnificent, big-hearted small-town story about family, friendship, storytelling, and the redemptive power of love.

Review:

I knew I was going to love this book when I read the synopsis. I related to this story and I felt this story on so many levels. Mr. Winslow tells a story that is all too familiar in the African-American community. Secrets are kept because people honestly believe  it’s the right thing to do when in reality the secrets are more harmful than helpful. All the while, hiding pain and suffering behind alcohol and being closed off from others. Knot is the prime example for all of that. She hides behind a mason jar of liquor, she pushes away the person who loves her so much. She keeps people at bay to avoid being hurt or disappointed and uses the excuse of being independent.

Otis is living in a world that he doesn’t realize is one big lie. A lie that he doesn’t even know exist. Not only a lie about him but his wife holds a secret that affects his dear friend Knot.

Secrets that are kept about true parentage  or other life events are much more detrimental than people realize. So many of the issues are presented in a historical sense but are still relevant today. Keeping secrets such as these can cause one to miss out on so much and when the truth does come out it can cause pain and anger. Knot had one daughter who built a relationship with her and her other daughter didn’t really have much to do with her.

I related to this story so much because I was adopted by a family member but it was a secret that was kept from me until I was 21 years old. My family believed that keeping the secret was better than knowing the truth and it was not the case. Keeping secrets such as these can cause one to miss out on so much and when the truth does come out it can cause pain and anger.

I highly recommend this story. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to read and review it. I look forward to Mr. Winslow’s next novel.

Rating:

5 Stars

Availability:

Available now in hardcover, ebook and audiobook

A special thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing for my gifted finished copy of this novel.

 

 

Blog Tour · book review · books · child abduction · crime · missing person · secrets · suspense

Have You Seen Her by Lisa Hall {ARC Review}

HaveYouSeenHer_BlogTour_2

Blurb:

Anna only takes her eyes off Laurel for a second. She thought Laurel was following her mum through the crowds. But in a heartbeat, Laurel is gone.
Laurel’s parents are frantic. As is Anna, their nanny. But as the hours pass, and Laurel isn’t found, suspicion grows.
Someone knows what happened to Laurel. And they’re not telling.

Review:

This book contained a whole pack of liars. I mean that in a good way too. When it comes to a missing child story you can’t trust anyone who is close to the child. Is Anna the caring, doting nanny she that she is trying to portray? Is Fran the high-strung frantic mother she shows to the world or have her acting skills kicked in? Is Dominic just a good-looking, highly skilled, ultra busy surgeon? All these questions went thru my head when poor Laurel comes up missing. Who did it and why?

As the story develops, you find out that Anna has a secret that she is desperately trying to keep hidden. Something has happened to her before that is causing her to have anxiety about Laurel missing. She frequently alludes to an event in her that she was involved in and made such an impact on her that she had to move. You also find out that Fran and Dominic aren’t the picture perfect couple(or parents for that matter) that everyone sees. It could be just the stress and pressure of having to deal with a missing child or there could be some underlying secrets that are trying to come to head. As Anna tries to help as much as she can to help find Laurel, while keeping her own secret hidden, she has to decide who she can trust. Can she trust those trying to help? Can she even trust her own employers?

Lisa develops the plot in such a way that you find yourself questioning everything and everyone. As you try to figure out what is going on, Hall throws in past events that make you doubt what you thought you had figured out. The pace of the book makes it an easy and fast read.

Rating:

3.75 Stars

Availability:

Available in ebook May 1, 2019 and in paperback June 27, 2019

Thank you to HQ Stories for the opportunity to read and review this book for their blog tour. I received this free book in exchange for my honest review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

book review · books · dedication · diversity · Family · Historical fiction · reading · secrets · World War 2

The Song of the Jade Lily by Kirsty Manning {Review}

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Blurb:

1939 Two young girls meet in Shanghai, also known as the “Paris of the East.” Beautiful local Li and Jewish refugee Romy form a fierce friendship, but the deepening shadows of World War II fall over the women as they slip between the city’s glamorous French Concession district and the teeming streets of the Shanghai Ghetto. Yet soon the realities of war prove to be too much for these close friends as they are torn apart.

2016: Fleeing London with a broken heart, Alexandra returns to Australia to be with her grandparents, Romy and Wilhelm. Her grandfather is dying, and over the coming weeks Romy and Wilhelm begin to reveal the family mysteries they have kept secret for more than half a century. As fragments of her mother’s history finally become clear, Alexandra struggles with what she learns while more is also revealed about her grandmother’s own past in Shanghai.

After Wilhelm dies, Alexandra flies to Shanghai, determined to trace her grandparents’ past. Peeling back the layers of their hidden lives, she is forced to question what she knows about her family–and herself.

The Song of the Jade Lily is a lush, provocative, and beautiful story of friendship, motherhood, the price of love, and the power of hardship and courage that can shape us all.

Review:

I knew I was going to like this book, I just was not prepared with how much I was going to love it. Being historical fiction, having a dual timeline, and the presence family secrets were all things that attracted me to this story.

My heart was shattered at the beginning of the story with an event that the Bernfeld family experiences as they attempting to flee Austria for their safety. Their family is torn apart in an instant. I couldn’t fathom going thru that experience and still having the strength to continue. They try to keep themselves together and hold on to their hope and faith as they start a new life in Shanghai. They aren’t the only ones who experience a tragic event while trying to get to safety, young Nina loses the people closest to her.

When Romy meets Li, she is shown a whole new part of Shanghai that she may not have otherwise experienced. The descriptions of the foods that she eats is phenomenal. Both girls are full of life and have such wonderful aspirations even with all that is transpiring around them.

Determination, self sacrifice and the will to fight on are all things Romy, Nina, and Li must deal with as they all get older.  Each of the girls is forced to make decisions in order to survive and protect the ones they love.

Meanwhile in present time, Alexander is dealing with a bad break up and then the death of her beloved grandfather. After his death,  Alexander has questions about her family origin. She knows that her birth mother was adopted and she is wanting to know who her mother may have been. That’s when the secrets start surfacing. After her grandmother’s avoidance of the conversation about her mother, Alexander makes the choice to look into her biological history on her own to try to tie up some loose ends.

As the story progresses thru both timelines, you are met with the feeling of hope for all the characters. You also experience the heartbreak they are forced to encounter.

Kirsty Manning weaves such a beautiful story that makes you feel so many emotions. You experience these emotions when you least expect to. At the same time you are trying to solve the mystery of Alexander’s mother’s birth mother. Along the way she is having to deal with some personal issues of her own.

The love between the characters in the story is so heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time.  I could gush about this book forever.

Rating:

5 Stars

Availability:

Available now in hardcover, ebook, and audio

A special thank you to William Morrow for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

book review · books · dedication · diversity · Family · own voices review · reading · secrets

Around Harvard Square by CJ Farley {Review}

Blurb:

It’s the nineties, and Tosh Livingston, straight-A student and superstar athlete, is living the dream—he’s made it out of upstate New York and into the incoming freshman class at Harvard University. But after an accident blows up his basketball-playing hopes, he discovers a new purpose in life—to win the frenzied competition for a spot on the staff of the Harvard Harpoon, the school’s legendary humor magazine.

Along with Lao, his pot-smoking roommate from China, their friend Meera, a passive-aggressive science major from India, and Zippa, a Jamaican student-activist with a flair for cartooning, Tosh finds that becoming a member of the Harpoonis weirder and more dangerous than anyone could have imagined. Success requires pushing themselves to their limits and unearthing long-buried secrets that will rock their school and change all of their lives forever.

Review:

This was one of those books I went into partially unaware of what it was going to be about and I also had some of the plot mixed up with another book, lol. Even with all that I ended up enjoying this story.  There were so many relatable aspects and scenarios. Farley explores privilege and race in a way that is not subtle but also not in your face. There were events that happened with Tosh that I have not only experienced in similar fashion but also have been witness to. He is a black male who is a first generation college student even though his father took a few classes at a community college. He is not your typical star athlete who has gotten in an ivy league school because of his sports talent but because of his intellectual ability.  He has to fight stereotypes while also having to manage not stereotyping others. For example, his roommate Lao and their friend Meera. Each of them has a background that they all try to hide from each other. They are all using Harvard as a clean slate to reinvent themselves.

When an opportunity comes to become part of the Harpoon, one of the school’s long-standing publications they are each tested in their morale and in their friendship.

The story is told from Tosh’s point of view to an unnamed person who you find out later is Zippa and that she plays a much bigger part in the story than is realized. This person has even more at stake than the others and much more to prove.

Farley not only explores the topics of racism, he also explores sexism as well. This story takes place in the 90s but it is so similar to what is currently going on today.

There is not a clear-cut ending to this novel and it basically leaves you to your own thoughts and assumptions as to what happens. I find that although that is not a desirable ending for most, it fit this story perfectly.

Rating:

4 Stars

Availability:

Available now in paperback and ebook

 

Thank you to Akashic Books for my free copy in exchange for an honest review.

book review · books · crime · Family · reading · secrets · suspense · YA

Missing Her by J.L Willow {ARC Review}

Blurb:

Vanessa Stockton and her best friend Eliza are inseparable. They’re living the best years of their lives, enjoying high school, boyfriends and planning for their futures. All that changes, though, when Eliza goes out to a party and never makes it home. Months pass without a break in the case, until one day Vanessa wakes up . . . in Eliza’s mind. Even more disturbing, she discovers she’s woken up two days before Eliza goes missing. Vanessa has no choice but to relive her best friend’s memories leading up to the disappearance and discover the truth about what happened before time runs out. But is the past set in stone? Or can Vanessa save her friend from an unspeakable fate?

Review:

When I first read the synopsis for this book I thought it was going to be the typical YA suspense filled with unnecessary teenage drama. I was wrong. I appreciated how the storyline was suspenseful  with a bit of paranormal bits thrown in. That is what set this missing person story apart from others that I have read.

There were some eye rolling moments but that is to be expected when you are reading about teens. What YA story would be complete without those moments? But they weren’t obnoxious moments. They were required becuase of the plot.

This was a quick read but it still had some intensity to it. There is more to it than what the blurb tells you. Although I had an idea of what was going to happen, I was still kept engaged as I read.

I am glad that I read this story because I do not read very many YA novels. I am also glad that I enjoyed it. I would definitley recommend it to the YA fans in my life.

Rating:

3.5 Stars

Availibility:

Available May 8th in hardcover and possible paperback

I would like to take a moment and thank the author, Ms. Willow, for reaching out to me to see if I would read and review her story.

book review · books · reading · secrets

Cape May by Chip Cheek {ARC Review}

Blurb:

Late September 1957. Henry and Effie, very young newlyweds from Georgia, arrive in Cape May, New Jersey, for their honeymoon only to find the town is deserted. Feeling shy of each other and isolated, they decide to cut the trip short. But before they leave, they meet a glamorous set of people who sweep them up into their drama. Clara, a beautiful socialite who feels her youth slipping away; Max, a wealthy playboy and Clara’s lover; and Alma, Max’s aloof and mysterious half-sister, to whom Henry is irresistibly drawn.

The empty beach town becomes their playground, and as they sneak into abandoned summer homes, go sailing, walk naked under the stars, make love, and drink a great deal of gin, Henry and Effie slip from innocence into betrayal, with irrevocable consequences.

Erotic and moving, this is a novel about marriage, love and sexuality, and the lifelong repercussions that meeting a group of debauched cosmopolitans has on a new marriage.

Review:

Let me start off by saying “WHOAH!!!!” I almost have no words for this book, the story. One of the things I loved about it was how it was told from a male perspective. Not only was it told from a male perspective, it was from a naive male at that. Another thing I enjoyed about this story was that it wasnt necessarily wrapped and presented in a nice, neat, conflict free package. The conflicts were realistic and relatable. Things got real and there wasn’t any sugar-coating to it, provocative is a word that keeps coming to mind. This book is provocative in so many ways. It is also thought-provoking.

Chip brings to life the story of young newlyweds, Henry and Effie. This young couple who throw out a vibe of innocence and cluelessness. Both of these prove to be wrong as the story develops. I will say that I did not care for Effie and that is because I felt that she belittled Henry in so many off-handed ways. I don’t know if that was intentional but it is definitely how I felt about her interactions with him. He doted on her and she basically treated him like a commoner. I wonder if that is because they came from different backgrounds or because she was just a spoiled brat. You are also introduced to Clara, Max and Alma. The three of them are quite the trio. Clara loving and doting on Max. Max almost aloof to Clara’s emotions. And Alma, seeming quite the innocent orphaned child who has been thrust into this carefree life.

Nothing is what it seems in this story. The conflicts that occur make you wonder what you would do in those situations. Chip demonstrates with each of these characters that one can never truly say never about anything in their life.

Before I wrap this up, I do have to mention the level of steaminess that is portrayed in this novel. There haven’t been many books that could make me blush in public but this one definitely tops the list. I do have to say that the steaminess is not why I am going to give this book 5 stars, it is the total content of the book and the writing that make me give this book 5 stars.

This is for sure a beach read! Unless you’re afraid you’ll blush too much, lol.

Rating:

5 Stars

Availability:

April 30th, 2019 in hardcover, ebook and audiobook

 

Thank you to Celadon Books for this opportunity to read and provide an honest review of this novel.

 

 

book review · books · Bootlegging · crime · Historical fiction · secrets

Tasting the Apple {The Bootleggers’ Chronicles #2} by Sherilyn Decter

Blurb:

A young widow on the edge. A policeman back from the dead. Together, can they take down the city’s most notorious bootlegger? In a city of bootleggers and crime, one woman must rely on a long-dead lawman to hunt down justice…

Philadelphia, 1925.
With a son to raise and boarders to feed, Maggie Barnes is at her wit’s end. But when a criminal element infiltrates the police force, the single mother puts her cares aside to help. As she tries to dig up dirt on bootlegger mastermind Mickey Duffy, Maggie realizes she can’t take on the case alone.

Inspector Frank Geyer used to patrol the streets of Philadelphia before Maggie was born. As he attempts to clean up crime from beyond the grave, the spirit uses his Victorian sensibilities to fight back against lawbreakers. But with corruption throughout the police force, can the phantom informant save his city and Maggie’s livelihood?

With the roof leaking and the lawlessness spiraling, Maggie and Frank have one chance to take down a criminal and prevent the unthinkable.

Tasting the Apple is the second thrilling book in The Bootleggers’ Chronicles historical mystery series. If you like strong female characters, stories inspired by actual history, and a touch of the paranormal, then you’ll love Sherilyn Decter’s tale of temptation and corruption.

Buy Tasting the Apple to experience the dark side of the Roaring Twenties today!

Review:

I have found myself back with Maggie and Inspector Frank as they help the Philadelphia police department fight back against the criminals. This time not only do they have the street criminals to worry about, they also have to worry about the criminals with badges and political power. Decter once again brings to life an era we sometimes forget about when it comes to historical fiction Prohibition and the Roaring Twenties.

I was happy to see how resilient Maggie has remained considering her previous run in with Mickey Duffy and his gang. Her friendship with Edith has blossomed although Edith seems to be on a path of self-destruction.

I really enjoy Sherilyn’s style of writing with this series. This is a semi complicated story but the writing style is simplistic enough to keep you engaged.

There were times I worried about Maggie and her decision making. But as always, she prevailed. Having Inspector Frank with her again helps keep her grounded in my opinion. She takes on the task of going back to school while still running her boarding house and raising her son. Again, in this story we see some internal conflict with Tommy as we did before in the previous novel.

We are also priviledged to witness a vulnerable side to Inspector Frank that I wish would have been developed a bit more.  I would like to see more of what is going on in his mind while in his current situation.

Sherilyn has also added some spice of forbidden love in the mix and I enjoyed that little shake up. Forbidden love and some potentially  new love. I won’t tell you who experiences what. You’ll have to read to find out.

I don’t want to give too much more away since this is part of a series. Just know that there is crime, pain, love and plenty of determination once again.

If you haven’t already, make sure you check out the first book in the series, Innocence Lost.

Rating:

3.5 Stars

Availability:

Available in ebook and paperback on Amazon

 

Thank you to MC Book Tours for reaching out to me and allowing me to be apart of this book tour.