Blog Tours, book reviews

Blog Tour | Christmas in Rose Bend by Naima Simone


I received an early copy of this book from Harlequin in exchange for an honest review.

Nessa and her teenaged sister Ivy arrive in Rose Bend without an ounce of Christmas spirit and plenty of surliness. Nessa was still reeling from both the death of her mother and her deathbed confession eight months earlier when the father she shares with Ivy also passes away, leaving Nessa custody of Ivy and sending them off to spend Christmas in Rose Bend. Neither of the sisters know what they’re supposed to find in Rose Bend or what they’re meant to do there but the small town folks that live there have no such uncertainties- Rose Bend is the epitome of Christmas and the folks that live there are determined to take Nessa and Ivy into their fold and imbue them with the sense of love and family they dearly need if its the last thing they ever do. While Ivy connects with a group of kids her own age Nessa attempts to avoid any human interaction. Unfortunately for her, Wolf Dennison has other plans and the connection between them is electric and immediate. Nessa, used to being abandoned by all the people she’s ever cared about, is intent on keeping things platonic with Wolf while she suffers in silence under a heavy burden she must bear on her own. But some things are too big to be controlled and even Nessa’s stubbornness will crack in the face of Wolf and his loving family. 

Christmas in Rose Bend perfectly encapsulates everything Christmas. The small-town feels and festive holiday celebrations happening throughout this entire story were exactly what I was hoping for when I started this book. This is the second installment in a series which I didn’t know when I agreed to participate in the blog tour but decided to stay the course and finish it anyway since I had already agreed to do so. Luckily, I discovered pretty quickly that this story could be read as a standalone. There are hints of the major events that happened in book one and I suspect reading the first book prior to this one would add a level of enjoyment to the reading experience but its not at all necessary.

In time the characters grew on me even if I was a little put off by the unfriendly demeanors of the sisters in the beginning. This part of the story arc was necessary for character growth and I completely understand that. On the flip side I really enjoyed Wolf and his big affectionate family- I also loved that this story was set at the Inn they owned and lived in; it added a layer of warmth and coziness that the book dearly needed in the beginning. I do have to admit that I wish Wolfgang wasn’t portrayed quite so perfectly. I enjoy flaws in my characters; it makes them more genuine and believable. Other than that I thought the dynamic between the family, friends and townspeople was well done and I appreciated the fact that a biracial relationship was front and center in this novel- something I wish we could see a lot more of in all genres. Additionally, I’d like to point out that the author did a fantastic job capturing that atmosphere so unique to small towns including all the drama that often comes with it. That simply cannot be helped in a place where everyone knows their neighbor and Nessa gets a taste of that when faced with Wolf’s ex-fiancé. Fortunately, the love and kindness often seen in places like this trumps the negative, making it the perfect setting for a holiday romance.

One of the best parts of this story was seeing Nessa and Ivy learn to be more patient and honest with each other and watching their relationship thrive because of it. It was heartwarming to see them both break down their carefully built walls in order to let the magic of the holiday season surround them after so long drowning in grief. This novel also had one of the most satisfying endings I’ve read in a while. I loved everything about it and had a big ole smile on my face the whole time. I can’t really pinpoint exactly what it was about the conclusion of this book that made me so happy but I think a lot of the reason is owed to the fact that so much of this story was weighed down by illness, loss, grief and abandonment that it was a relief when the weight was finally lifted. The other part is most likely because I was a living vicariously through the characters- I can think of nothing better than a small town covered in snow for the Christmas season and being surrounded by friends, family and people who genuinely care about you. Both Nessa and Ivy started this journey feeling like they had no one in the world and came out the other side part of a lovely family. What’s not to like about that?

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About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Naima Simone’s love of romance was first stirred by Johanna Lindsey and Nora Roberts years ago. Well not that many. She is only eighteen…ish. Published since 2009, she spends her days writing sizzling romances with heart, a touch of humor and snark. She is wife to Superman- or his non-Kryptonian equivalent- and mother to the most awesome kids ever. They live in perfect, sometimes domestically-challenged bliss in the southern U.S.

Find Naima on social media:

Author Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


Blog Tours, book reviews

Blog Tour | The Christmas Escape by Sarah Morgan


Christy sends her daughter, Holly, ahead on their Christmas trip to Lapland with her best friend, Alix, so she can stay behind for a few days and support her husband, Seb, through an unexpected hardship. Little does Alix know, Seb’s best friend, Zac, is also accompanying her and she isn’t pleased about it, especially after their last heated encounter. To top it all off, the reason for Christy’s trip to Lapland was to reconnect with her estranged Aunt Robyn and learn the reason for the separation once and for all. Truths will be exposed and hopefully the magical setting of the Northern Lights, majestic pines and glistening snow will be enough to see them all through.

I really, really enjoyed this novel. The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the reasons I liked this book is the setting. I can’t think of a more magical, Christmas atmosphere than Lapland. Add in Aunt Robyn’s winter getaway with a beautiful lodge and romantic cabins and the setting is elevated even more. There is snow-shoeing, sled dogs, visiting Santa, seeing the Northern Lights… It was just wonderful. By the time I was done Lapland was added to my own personal bucket list.

The characters are dynamic and interesting. I loved watching Alix and Zack break down the walls between them and finally face the things that are getting in the way of any budding relationship they may have had over the years. Alix is very witty and I found myself laughing out loud at her antics. Christy and Seb have been married for five years but are just now accepting the truth that they don’t know each other as well as they thought and they use their much needed alone time acquainting themselves with each other. Robyn has been waiting and hoping for the moment she might be able to reconnect with her niece that she hasn’t seen since she was three years old. She’s desperate to make amends and her husband Eric is there to support her in all things. Each character brought something new to the story and I was never bored while reading.

The Christmas Escape opened on Christy facing some things she was having trouble dealing with, leading me to believe the book would be a bit darker than I had expected but this simply wasn’t the case. This ended up being such a lovely, heartwarming story that I never wanted to put it down. If this book doesn’t put you in the Christmas spirit than nothing will. Central to the plot of the book is Christy and Alix’s lifelong friendship and their very special bond with one another. But even that will be put to the test in this story of family, friendships and discovery.

View all my reviews

About the Author

USA Today Bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction. Her trademark humor and warmth have gained her fans across the globe and three RITA Awards from the Romance Writers of America. Sarah lives in London, England, where the rain frequently keeps her trapped in her office.

Find her on social media:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Author Website

book reviews

ARC Review | King of Corium by C. Hallman & J.L. Beck

King of Corium by C. Hallman & J. L. Beck

♛ New Adult, Dark Romance

♛ Release Date: 10/25/2021

♛ ★★★★


Welcome to Corium University where criminal masterminds send their progeny to learn the trade and keep the family legacy going. Corium is the last place Aspen wants to be after her arms dealer father turns evidence over to the feds implicating the largest criminal families in the game. Unfortunately those criminals were a step ahead of him and now he’s sitting in prison instead and he’s taken his family down with him. 

Quinton Rossi, son of the most powerful criminal in the mob, heads to Corium for an escape from everything thats happened in his life over the last year- namely the feds showing up at his home and the untimely death of his sister Adela. The last thing he wants to deal with is sharing space with Aspen, the rat who’s father attempted to ruin the lives of his family and so many others. One thing is for sure though- if he has to live in the same building with her he’s going to make sure she pays for the crimes of her parents. One rule of Corium is that they are not to kill one another but when Quinton is done with Aspen she’ll be wishing for death. 

Corium is a dark mafia romance thats not for the feint of heart. There are a lot of scenes where there is no consent given for sexual acts and that non-consent isn’t challenged in the book. Personally this doesn’t bother me. When I go into a dark romance book like this I am accepting that these types of themes are most likely present. So if you’re a reader that would be triggered by this or a reader that feels the need to police all the nuances of the books they read than I recommend skipping this one.

I feel this book had equal amounts of things I liked and things that I didn’t. I LOVED the set-up for the story. A secret school for criminals hidden in the wilds of Alaska? Yes, please. That setting drew me immediately to this title and it definitely delivered. As far as I can tell the Alaskan wilderness will play an even bigger role in book two. Aspen showing up at this school after what her father did would take a lot of bravery. I think Aspen was portrayed well as far as being a woman who was clearly lonely and desperate for a friend but still tough enough to push back against her attackers. I liked her a lot. I also feel the authors were successful in making me like Quinton despite all that he does to Aspen for his own gain. I was definitely invested in the story and actually felt real sadness when I reached the end… especially once I read that cliffhanger. I’ll warn all potential readers right now: the cliffhanger is KILLER- and book two doesn’t come out until January. Honestly? Knowing what I know now I probably would have held off on reading this one until closer to the next installments release because that ending physically hurt my heart. 

I do have a few criticisms but nothing that would stop me from reading the next book- as a matter of fact I plan to start one of the other series by this author duo in the mean time. The writing style felt a bit amateurish to me. Knowing these authors have written multiple books I will admit to being confused by this. The writing wasn’t bad by any means but it lacked flavor. One element of the writing that DID bother me was the authors use of the phrase “It feels like something bad is going to happen.” Instead of building up tension or foreboding organically the authors used this phrase. So instead of feeling that tension I was simply told that I should be feeling it. I did read an advanced copy of this book so it’s possible some changes were made in the final drafts. There is a lot of repetitive phrases and it always feels as though the author is trying to convince me of how tough Quinton is. So there were definitely a few things that could have used some polishing but all in all I quite liked this story. 

This series has great potential and King of Corium was a solid opener into the world. I’m beyond excited to get my hands on book two as soon as I can and to read some of their other titles until then. Please be aware of some trigger warnings: death of a sibling, abandonment, physical and emotional abuse, rape, starvation, and grief.


About the Authors

C. Hallman

J.L. Beck

J.L. Beck and C. Hallman are an international bestselling author duo who writes dark and contemporary romance.

J.L Beck is a USA Today bestselling author, she has written over fifty different romance novels. She started her writing journey back in 2014 and hasn’t slowed down a second since then. She’s captivated by real romance and loves reading about “ALPHA” males, as well as sassy heroines that know or may not know what they want. She is best known for delivering a happily ever after but has ended things on a cliffhanger a time or two.

C. Hallman is a USA Today bestselling author who wrote her debut novel in 2018. Born and raised in Germany, Cassandra moved to the United States when she was eighteen. She’s now a mom to three boys and happily married. With a love for reading, that love slowly transpired into writing. She put fingers to the keyboard and started writing about the dark side of romance.

In January 2019, the two authors teamed up and wrote their first novel together, Convict Me. The book turned into a popular six-part dark romance series. Quickly, the pair realized how great they worked together snd decided to write as a duo indefinitely. Since then, they have published four successful series including the international bestseller The North Woods University series and the Amazon top 75 Bestseller Savage Beginnings.

Find these authors on social media:

Check out their website here for more info!

Blog Tours, book reviews

Blog Tour | Meet Me in London by Georgia Toffolo


Meet Me in London is the first installment in the Meet Me series. This book follows Victoria, an independent clothing designer, teacher, and bartender, and Oliver, a billionaire department store owner. The two of them bump into each other on the street- literally- leading to Oliver giving Victoria a sneak peak of the new department store and haberdashery prior to opening. One thing leads to another and before you know it the two of them have a deal that includes Oliver doing a runway show for Victoria’s students and Victoria playing the part of Oliver’s fiancé to appease his parents. But what happens when playacting becomes reality and one of you is keeping secrets?

My favorite element of this story was definitely the atmosphere- London during the holiday season, including a big beautiful department store with all the trappings- I wanted to crawl into this story and stay forever for the holiday vibes alone. There is something about the holiday season that makes everything feel a bit more magical than any other time of the year and this story was no exception. 

I really enjoyed the characters- I found Oliver to be humble and sweet even giving his very wealthy upbringing and life. Victoria is smart and independent with a great group of girlfriends that she can both lean on and celebrate with whenever she needs to. Due to a horrific tragedy that they all endured together as teenagers they have a very special bond; no one else can understand what they went through like they can. I could personally relate to the main character in this way, having suffered a similar hardship when I was a teenager. And while I have a more personal understanding due to this I still had a hard time believing this thing had such an impact on their lives, so many years later, that it would dictate where the characters would live, the things they would do, and create an unbreakable bond between them- even with them all living in various places across the globe. 

The romance between Victoria and Oliver was cute. I didn’t really feel the chemistry that I’ve felt in the past when reading great romance books but I liked their relationship and the discussions that it brought to the table. Both characters were facing hardships in their lives, one the serious illness of a parent and the other a burdening secret. As far as the secret went, I didn’t get it. I wasn’t really convinced that this particular secret could be the catalyst keeping two people completely in love apart. I don’t really care for the miscommunication trope but I do appreciate the importance of the topic and the understanding and acceptance that Oliver showed in the end. 

If you’re looking for a romance to read during the holiday season I’d definitely recommend this one. It’s a quick read with that cozy atmosphere most of us look for this time of year and it has a feel-good ending we can all get behind. I personally wouldn’t recommend the audiobook. The author narrates it herself and while she has a lovely voice she doesn’t have the talent of a voice actress- to differentiate emotion and change the voice between characters. I found it hard to determine which character was speaking and when dialogue became monologue. 

Trigger Warnings: Chronic Illness, Car Accident, Death/Injury of a friend, and Infertility.


About the Author

Georgia Toffolo is a broadcaster and TV personality. She has been a film favorite with the public right from the start of her TV debut, Made in Chelsea, all the way to winning over the hearts of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here in 2018.

Georgia turned her eye to fashion and has curated two sell-out collections with fashion retailer Shein. An ambassador for many British brands, both large and small, Georgia has also collaborated with Dyson, Baileys, Emma Bridgewater, Great British Racing, Foreo and Malibu amongst many more.

Most recently, Georgia has dived into the world of fiction by publishing her debut novel Meet Me in London with publishing house Mills and Boon. This is the first of an original series of four books following a group of lifelong friends and bringing personal anecdotes to life with humor and charm.

You can find Georgia Toffolo on social media:

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tik Tok | Instagram | Goodreads


book reviews

ARC Review | The Sightless City by Noah Lemelson

The Sightless City by Noah Lemelson

Adult, Dark Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Dieselpunk

★★★★


My thanks go to Tiny Fox Press for sending me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

It’s peacetime in the city of Huile where Marcel Talwar is working as a private investigator after he sacrificed his leg and his lover in the battle that won them their freedom. Life lacks excitement but it’s relatively peaceful until information comes to light that suggests someone close to him is using him as a pawn in a game that could endanger everything himself and his squad sacrificed so much for.

It’s hard to even decide where to begin with this book that is so epic in scope. When you begin reading this story you are immediately immersed into a fully formed world that has it’s own religions, calendar, species, slang, and even its own scientific rules and beliefs. It’s also incredibly hard to picture this world in your head as a lot of the settings and surroundings are things unfamiliar to us- which really speaks to the imagination and cleverness of the author. The entire time I was reading this story I was thinking how amazing it would be to see an artists rendition of everything described. Because this is such a unique world that you are basically just dropped into with very little introduction it can feel a bit overwhelming trying to familiarize with all the elements of the setting. I admittedly struggled a bit attempting to understand and envision Huile and it’s surroundings.

The tone of The Sightless City is quite dark- living in this world is no picnic. It’s heavy on the political side and war has decimated everything- the result is a community of people and beings struggling to rebuild and acclimate to a life of peace after a long period of hardship. The governing body is made up of men that played various parts in the war, including Lazarus Roache, the oil tycoon who runs the sangleum refineries that produce the product that everything in their world runs on. Unfortunately this chemical causes many severe side effects including mutations and is quite dangerous. Marcel receives information that leads him to believe everything is not what it seems in that department and from there the reader is led into a deep, dark abyss. 

There is lot going on in this book and religion plays a large part of it. There are warring beliefs that are prominent in the storyline but neither of them are explained in great detail. I only ever had a very loose grasp on the specifics but I think it is, in part, meant to be that way. Based on how the book ended I believe we will gain a greater understanding of the religion and the god one side worships in the next book; the revelation of said details playing a substantial part in the plot. 

I realize that the elements of this story that I’ve shared are quite vague but these details are in and of themselves important to the plot and saying too much about any portion of this book veers too close to spoiler territory. I read this without reading the synopsis because the advanced copy does not offer one and in doing so everything that happened was a surprise to me; I think it was a good choice to learn everything organically. This book is also hard to categorize- it has elements of dark fantasy, sci-fi, dieselpunk, steampunk, post-apocalyptic dystopian, with a dash of noir style mystery. The Sightless City is genuinely a book in a category all its own.

This story starts out somewhat slow and can seem quite dense at times but it’s also extremely well-written; Lemelson knows how to expertly build up to huge reveals while keeping the reader anxiously at the edge of their seat. If you like very intricate fantasy worlds with heavy political and religious leanings this book was written just for you. There is not one iota of romance or fluff of any kind anywhere to be found here- this is a very dark and gritty world that is totally worth the read. I’m very eager to see where book two will take us!

Please enjoy an interview with the author, Noah Lemelson, here.


About the Author

Noah Lemelson is a short story writer and novelist who lives in LA with his wife and cat. Lover of Science Fiction, Fantasy, New Weird, and Punk. He received his BA in Biology from the University of Chicago in 2014 and received his MFA in Creative Writing from the California Institute of the Arts in 2020. He has several short stories published in both print and online magazines, such as Allegory, Space Squid and the Outsider’s Within Horror Anthology.

Follow Noah Lemelson on Social Media:

Facebook: @Noah Lemelson | Instagram: @EruditeGoblin

book reviews

Book Review | Almost Mortal by Christopher Leibig

Almost Mortal by Christopher Leibig

► Adult, Legal Thriller, Fantasy

► Release Date: 5/1/16

► ★★★★


➸ I was gifted a copy of this book by the author in return for an honest review.

Sam Young, an up-and-coming defense attorney with psychic abilities, finds himself caught up in the investigation of a serial killer when a young nun named Camille Paradisi approaches him outside the courthouse one evening. Camille also shares journal entries that have been showing up piecemeal at the church that she believes could have been penned by the killer. The journal begins in the 1940’s, Argentina, and tells the life story of a person who claims to have mind control and to be the descendant of fallen angels cast out of heaven by God. Identifying the killer could put the pastor at the church at risk if they can’t find the murderer before he kills again. 

When I was asked to read and review this book I was bit on the fence about it. Legal thrillers are not normally my jam but with the supernatural addition I thought it might be something I’d enjoy. To my welcome surprise I really, really liked this book. Our main character Sam is likable, funny, smart, and enterprising. As we follow Sam through the day to day of being a lawyer we are introduced to a multitude of diverse and interesting characters. At the time I thought that while interesting, meeting all these people seemed to be just filler and not actually necessary to the story. But I was quite wrong on that front. You don’t know it at the time but all the relationships Sam is cultivating with his clients become quite relevant later on in the book. I was actually impressed with the way the author brought the story full circle with details I didn’t even realize were important at the time. One of the major strengths of this novel is definitely the characters and being a character-driven reader this really appealed to me. 

A couple other aspects I really liked about this story was the writing style and expertise. The author, Christopher Leibig, is a criminal defense lawyer with a postgraduate degree in forensics and it really shows. He was able to make this story more realistic and interesting with his intimate knowledge on the subject. He also wrote in a way that didn’t bore the reader to tears with all the forensic jargon. I quite liked the time spent in court and talking about evidence; two things I never really thought were capable of entertaining me on any real level. On another note, I find that most books I really like usually have some humor in them so it’ll be no surprise that I found our main character to be pretty funny in a dry way. I found myself smiling a lot during the dialogue bits. 

So, what took off a star? In the beginning of the book when we are first being introduced to characters, I found that the authors way of describing women and overweight people to be insensitive and unattractive. When the nun, Camille, came into the picture the descriptions used to describe her were a bit too sexual for my taste especially given her life choice. He also emphasized her attractive and youthful appearance as if only old and unattractive women could be a nun. A short time later we meet an overweight woman who was described using words like “huge” and “colossal”. The main character did treat the women with empathy and caring but the insensitive way of describing them didn’t sit well with me and this may turn off some readers, especially those who consider themselves to be overweight. Looking back I really don’t think the author meant anything derogatory by the way these characters were written and hopefully his future books will be written with more sensitivity in that department. 

That is really the only criticism I have for this book. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this and will be picking up the sequel, Almost Damned, very soon. I’m very curious to see where this story will go next. I recommend this to both legal thriller and fantasy fans. And if you’re like me who normally wouldn’t read something like this but are intrigued? Give it a go! You won’t be disappointed.

Blog Tours, book reviews

Blog Tour | The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman by Julietta Henderson


➳ I was gifted an early copy of this book by Mira and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

When reading a synopsis of a book each of us have buzz words or themes that jump out and indicate this will probably be a book you really enjoy. This book had a few of those for me, some I didn’t discover until I started reading, so let me share those with you here:

➳ adventure/road trip
➳ old man/grandfatherly character
➳ found family
➳ character-driven 
➳ humor

With a list like this there should be no doubt whatsoever as to why I loved this story. Norman is a lovely little boy with severe psoriasis who didn’t have many friends and definitely never had a best friend. That is until Jax came along. Jax managed to alienate every child in his class with his over-the-top behavior and potty mouth. So when he met Norman he knew he was likely his last chance at making a best friend and luckily Norman thought Jax was the best thing to happen to his class. 

They were “The Bloody Rolls-bloody-Royce of bloody best friends,” as Jax so eloquently put it.

Jax and Norman were 12 years old and had been fast friends for six years until a terrible tragedy struck and Jax died, leaving Norman with a gaping hole in his world that he didn’t know how to fill. Out of desperation to lift Norman’s spirits his mother, Sadie, blurts out that she would take Norman to the Fringe, a comedy festival that Norman and Jax had always dreamed of performing at. And even though they weren’t planning to go for 3 more years Norman jumps on the opportunity to honor is friend by living their dream; even if Norman was the not-funny one. 

Sadie, at a loss as to how she can possibly get her son a spot at the Fringe and also help him find his father, the second thing on his newly minted five-year plan list, she vents to her elderly friend, Leonard, about it who then decides he’s going to help Sadie and Norman make this dream come true one way or another. Sadie is worried that her son doesn’t have what it takes to get on the stage so Leonard arranges for Norman to perform at several open mic nights in various cities on their way to Edinburgh. But it turns out that Norman, Leonard, and Sadie learn a lot more than how to perfect a comedy show on this adventure full of hijinks, laughter, tears, and facing your fears.

“Hold on to your hat, Norman, old man! You’re going to the Fringe, Baby!”

As I listed above some of my favorite things in books are old men and adventures and character-driven stories and this book hits the nail on all three heads and doesn’t miss. Leonard is the perfect grandfatherly character with his wise advice, steady demeanor, and determination. Not to mention that he’s just adorable- especially how he worships his lovely wife, Iris. He is exactly the type of friend Sadie needs in her life and on this trip. While Sadie loves her son more than life itself she is also a realistic and relatable mother. She isn’t perfect, stiff, and coiffed. She has flaws, makes mistakes, and tends to be a bit unorganized. She’s a person that all mothers can see themselves in even if they don’t want to admit it. And while we’re on the subject of realistic characters, Norman fits the bill perfectly. So many books and movies for adults present us with a carbon copy child that rarely acts like the way a real child would but that isn’t the case with Norman at all. He’s so well-written he practically stands up off the page. Characters are definitely one of Julietta Henderson’s many strengths. She really seems to understand the human condition. Along the way we meet many other characters, both fun and some not so much, but Leonard, Sadie, and Norman are the stars of the show.

This story had me smiling so big nearly the whole time and when I wasn’t smiling it’s because I was outright laughing… and sometimes crying. Another thing this author does exceptionally well is balancing tragedy with humor. Our characters are each dealing with their own set of hardships, some of them together and others alone, but they always manage to have a good time and laugh through the tears. Jax may have passed but he’s just as present in this story as if he was still right there beside this family. Both Sadie and Norman really loved Jax and deal with their grief in their own ways but one thing they have in common is thinking fondly on his crazy hijinks and using his outrageous advice and ideas to keep them going. I just love Jax and how full of life he was… so full of life that even after he was gone he still blinded both the characters and readers with his presence. 

Among everything else done well in this book I also thought the pacing was perfect. Just enough action to keep the momentum going until it rolls to a graceful stop at the end. This is a story of friendship, love, hope, and self discovery among a million other things. It may not have you on the edge of your seat and it may not be a literary masterpiece, But what it is is better than all that. It’s facing your fears and coming out the other side stronger. It’s accepting who you are and learning to love that person. It’s finding a place where you can think about the people you’ve loved and lost and smile instead of cry. It’s a story about a boy and his best friend and the people that love them.

I also want to mention that I was able to listen to a large portion of this on audio and I highly recommend it. The narrator does the three main characters voices beautifully and with aplomb. The nuances she added while reading, especially the funny parts, really elevated the reading experience. This story is great no matter how you consume it but if you like audiobooks you should add this one to your list!

Content Warnings: suicide (off page), death of a friend, death of a parent, bullying, grief, illness. 


About the Author

I was brought up in a book-loving family in the rainforests of North Queensland and I’ve been writing professionally for more than 25 years.

My work has appeared in books and publications in the US, UK and Australia. The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman is my first novel.

I divide my life between my home town of Melbourne, the UK and wherever else I can find winter!

Blog Tours, book reviews

Blog Tour | Her Dark Lies by J.T. Ellison

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop | Books-a-Million | Libro.fm | Audible | Kobo | Goodreads

Thank you to Netgalley and Mira for an ARC of this title. All opinions are my own.

Her Dark Lies takes place on the beautiful Isle Isola, Italy, where the Compton family owns an extensive villa. This is also where Claire will marry the love of her life, Jack Compton, and take her place in the very wealthy and prestigious family. Claire isn’t the first woman to wed the handsome Jack but the details surrounding the death of his first wife ten years earlier are a taboo subject with the Comptons-until they reach the island and suspicious things begin happening, leaving them no choice but to share the truth with Claire. What they don’t know is that Claire has some secrets of her own. 

“How romantic, how very gothic and creepy, and how very Compton to choose an island surrounded by sea monsters and exhausted birds to call their own.”

This is the first thriller to truly entertain and stump me in a long time. There are so many different aspects that I really liked about this book. First being the isolated island setting during severe storms that made leaving the island impossible. Not to mention that the hulking villa perched on the cliffs practically served as its own character with all its twists, turns, and surprises. There are a wealth of characters from the bride and groom and their families to the security and staff and they’re all fair game in this sordid tale of cat and mouse. 

“I have taken so many lives. The first time was the hardest. It gets easier after that.”

I knew who the antagonist was pretty early on but it’s not really meant to be a secret. What the reader is trying to discover is the HOW rather than the who and the fact that you never know who you can trust just adds another layer of suspense to the book. The chapters alternate between a few points of view, one being from the antagonist themselves who isn’t explicitly named but the information you’re given makes it clear that this person is in the villa and watching everything that’s going on and you are left trying to figure out how they are able to maneuver and know so many details without being seen. It’s a very clever storytelling device. 

“Our silences grew from two bent trees into a forest that provided shelter and safety.”

Some suspension of belief is necessary to make the ending and some other outcomes believable- but it was easy enough for me to do so. I was really hoping for a big AHA! moment but it never came resulting in the loss of a star. I felt that so much more could have been done to make the ending more twisty and shocking. As a whole I really enjoyed trying to guess what was happening and discovering the stories behind some of the juicier bits as they were slowly revealed. There was also a grandfather and two dogs in this book and those are two things I always enjoy in my stories. 

I recommend this book to anyone who likes a darker, more gothic mystery thriller with a large cast of characters, multiple points of view, and isolated settings. 

trigger warnings: Drug use (off page), domestic abuse, talk of suicide, loss of a loved one, grief.

All quotes used in this review were taken from an uncorrected proof and are subject to change.


About the Author

J.T. Ellison is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 25 novels, and the EMMY® award winning co-host of the literary TV show A WORD ON WORDS. With millions of books in print, her work has won critical acclaim, prestigious awards, and has been published in 28 countries. Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens. Visit JT at FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for more insight into her wicked imagination.

Blog Tours, book reviews

Blog Tour | Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers


Thank you to Netgalley & Park Row Books for an advanced copy of this title. The following opinions are my own.

“I know who I am, but who are you? I woke up during the sunrise, and your hair and your skin and the freckles on your nose glowed like gold. Honey-gold. I think you are my wife, and I will call you Honey Girl.”

And so begins the sapphic romance between Grace Porter and Yuki Yamamoto; two lonely souls who found each other in the desert. Grace and her two roommates and best friends, Ximena and Agnes, are on a mini vacation in Las Vegas to celebrate Grace’s PhD in Astronomy. On their last night in the city Grace meets a girl with rose-pink cheeks and pitch-black hair. When she wakes up the following morning in her Las Vegas hotel room she finds a photo, a business card, and a note on the bed next to her. These are the only items she has connecting her to the woman she drunk-married the night before. She doesn’t remember her name but she can’t forget how the beautiful girl made her feel. With only these memento’s and snippets of a champagne-bubble dream, Grace and her girlfriends get on a plane and fly back to Portland, Oregon, where Grace must once again face her stark reality. The only thing Grace knows for certain is that she doesn’t want to give up her wife, whoever she is, or the connection they inexplicably have.

I’ll admit that this book started out on a bit of a bumpy course for me. The story felt a little disjointed and the prose didn’t seem to flow well. Dialogue didn’t smoothly segue into thought. Unfortunately when I read a book that starts out this way I have a hard time deciphering whether it’s the book or just me. I also felt the pacing was a little off with the first 40% of the book following Grace and her friends from day to day and then in the second half there were quite a few time jumps. This was necessary for the progression of the story but the book would have benefitted from a more consistent timeline. All in all these are pretty minor infractions. Where the book really shines is in the characters and their growth throughout the story. 

Grace’s mother lives in Southbury, Florida where Grace grew up among the trees in their orange grove. Grace’s father, the Colonel, took Grace and moved to Portland when she was quite young. Growing up in an unfamiliar city with only her father and lovely stepmother, Sharone, Grace slowly built her own family- an eclectic group of colorful humans that love and support one another above all else. Her two roommates, Agnes, the girl with claws and sharp teeth, and Ximena, the Spanish goddess who is the glue that holds them together, lean on one another and pick each other up when they need it. 

Grace works at the Tea House owned by the lovely Indian family that has adopted Grace as their own. Meera is the calm and supportive sister-figure, while Raj plays the role of big brother and protector. Baba Vihaan, their father, lovingly embraces Grace as if she is his own. Later, we meet Yuki, the gorgeous Japanese storyteller that Grace married in the desert along with her 3 roommates. Sani, the Native American MMA fighter, Dhorian, the dark-skinned resident doctor, and Fletcher, the silly and loving school teacher. 

The diversity in both ethnicity and sexuality make this a decadent and vibrant story. Different cultures and beliefs are touched upon throughout the book in subtle ways. Biracialism is front and center; Grace is half black and half white. The struggles she faces in both her life and her career are heartbreaking and appalling. Intersectionality also plays a big role in this book. The Colonel is both black and disabled; he lost a portion of his leg in the war. Grace is not only biracial but suffers with mental illness as well. And she isn’t the only one. Agnes is thriving with Ximena and Grace but she’s still battling with her illnesses. 

“I am here, says the darkness inside Grace. I am listening.”

Both Grace and Raj are buckling under the weight of their father’s expectations but in very different ways. While the Colonel is extremely strict and refuses to give an inch, Baba Vihaan is loving and warm but their culture demands the eldest son take over the family business when the patriarch dies whether Raj wants that life or not. 

When Grace decides to take some time for herself after eleven grueling years of non-stop education and job rejections that are based on her race and sexuality rather than her above board and absolutely stellar resume, she does so against the wishes of her very strict father. For the first time in her life she is making a decision for herself rather than someone else. Little does she know that flying to NYC and getting to know her wife will become the catalyst she needs to finally face her fears, confront the people that have hurt her, and begin the arduous task of freeing herself from many self-inflicted burdens. 

Grace is a brilliant astronomer, vastly knowledgable, and has the degrees and doctorate to prove it but when it comes to knowing her inner-self, the things she needs to make her happy, she is woefully inept. Following along on her journey of self-discovery is both heartbreaking and inspiring; I have a feeling her story will resonate with many people of color, especially women. These beautiful humans can read this story and feel seen. Whether the reader is black, biracial, Indian, Spanish, Japanese, Native American, disabled, Buddhist, lesbian, bi, gay, or straight- this story is a love letter to you. That being said I highly recommend reading an own-voices review; a review from someone who has shared the experiences of our main character. I suggest the following reviews for your perusal: Mina Reads & Ahtiya (BookinitWithAhtiya).

If you’re someone who loves diversity, strong female leads, found-family, or self-discovery in your stories than look no further. Morgan Rogers did a phenomenal job representing so many marginalized people. This is a novel that I read with google open on my phone to search all the new things I discovered while reading, whether it was about culture, food, or ethnicity. This is an absolute feast of a book!


You can also find me here:  bookstagram | twitter

The quotes used in this review were taken from an uncorrected proof and are subject to change upon publication.


About the Author

Morgan Rogers is a queer black millennial. She writes books for queer girls looking for their place in the world. She lives in Maryland and has a Shih Tzu named Nico and a cat named Grace that she would love to write into a story one day. Honey Girl is her debut novel.

book reviews

Book Review | You Have a Match by Emma Lord

You Have a Match by Emma Lord

☾ Young Adult, Contemporary

☾ Release Date: 1/12/21

☾ My Rating: ★★★★★


Thank you to Wednesday Books and Netgalley for an early copy of this book. The following opinions are my own. 

I was on the blog tour for Emma Lord’s debut Tweet Cute last year. I really liked Emma’s writing style and decided to request an early copy of her sophomore novel as well. And…WOW. You Have a Match was excellent. Emma put on display her total mastery of the art of storytelling in this book. I liked her debut but it can’t hold a candle to her second novel in my opinion. 

You Have a Match opens with Abby Day and her best friends, Leo and Connie, submitting a DNA test for an anthropology paper they’re working on. When the results come back revealing that Abby has a full-blooded older sister she is in complete shock. And when she realizes her older sister is the instagram Influencer Savannah Tully and that she lives only 30 minutes away she can’t turn her back on the opportunity to meet her and to possibly uncover the truth of the why behind her secret sister’s existence. 

It’s so hard to decide where to start with a book that encompasses SO MUCH. You’ve got wholesome and 100% fleshed-out characters, you’ve got a lovely doggy sidekick, a wonderful and warm grandpa (in memory), friend groups you’ll downright envy, organic character growth, love interests with ALL THE CHEMISTRY, a summer camp setting with huge skies and bonfires and nature that will bury you in nostalgia, and the family-owned coffee shop lending its smells and cozy atmosphere to the story. There is photography and foodie wars and so much more. I wanted to LIVE in this story. After the third time I lost count how many times the tears ran down my face- these characters just touch your heart so deeply. 

Where Twitter was the foundation of Tweet Cute its Instagram in You Have a Match. Savvy’s adoptive parents are quirky and rich and absolutely obsessed with health and wellness. In an attempt to make something that can be all-consuming into something fun Savvy and her best friend Mickey started an Instagram account highlighting all the ways to incorporate healthy living into your life while also making it enjoyable. She’s also very open with her sexuality on her account, not shying away from the fact that she likes girls. Throughout the book we see how something that starts out as fun can become all-consuming and mean that you’re missing out on important experiences happening all around you and how it can be hard to juggle being an influencer and also being just human.

Instagram also plays a part in Abby’s life; not only does she take staged photos of Leo’s amazing food creations for his account, but Leo himself created an instagram for Abby’s photography and takes it upon himself to share her best photos there. Abby is too shy to share her work so Leo does this in an attempt to show her how wonderful her photos truly are. Abby is also too shy to tell Leo how she really feels about him, especially after an embarrassing incident happens and changes their friend group dynamic. Connie also plays a part in the miscommunication that’s running rampant between the friends. 

“I breathe in the sticky warmth of the air, the pine and the electricity and the ache of something deeper than I can name, knowing that no view I can capture will ever compare to this feeling-seeing it through my eyes while seeing it through his, letting us both bleed into a world where those two thing can be the same.”

Savvy and Abby’s worlds collide when they go to the same summer camp with the goal being to uncover as much as possible of their shared past. But when Abby discovers that Leo and Savvy already know each other from this camp it truly becomes a merging of all their lives and the drama unfolds from there. 

Emma Lord does a fantastic job with this storyline, incorporating both current times and nods to the 1990’s/2ooo’s that’ll ensure that every reader no matter the age will find this book inclusive and fun. She is also the queen of metaphors; some made me literally laugh out loud.

“Savvy ducks her head down so Mickey can untangle the tag from her wet ponytail, but the two of them are cracking up so hard at how ridiculous Savvy looks with her head upside down and her arms extended out like she’s about to burst into the world’s most aggressive jazz hands that they aren’t making much progress.”

This probably isn’t as funny without the context behind it and I could share a million more like it but each reader should experience the wonder of Emma’s writing themselves. All of the characters are significantly different from one another- some are goofy, some are witty, some are shy- but the one thing they all have in common is how lovable they are. You’ll find yourself rooting for them while also wishing you could give them all a hug. Go ahead and get yourselves a box of tissues when you settle down with this book because there is no way you won’t tear up a time or two as you watch these characters bear their hearts to one another and help each other heal. It’s just so damn good. 

“…I hear Poppy’s voice in my head-If you learn to capture a feeling, it’ll always be louder than words. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel one louder than this.”

After reading both of Emma’s books she is definitely on my auto-buy list and that’s really saying something coming from me as I don’t normally love YA contemporary and rarely buy from this genre. But there is no denying that this is an author to watch and I can’t imagine anyone giving this book less than five stars. 

Quotes shared in this review were taken from an uncorrected proof and are subject to change upon publication.