Thursday, December 24, 2020

2020 in Reviews...Books I've Reviewed in August 2020

Wall Street Journal
 bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills delivers a smart and sexy romance about a professional football hottie and the small-town girl he can’t resist.

We start off with a lie on Valentine’s Day.

My blind date isn’t the studious guy I expected. Nope, he’s a drop-dead gorgeous player with sinful amber eyes and a killer body. Somehow we end up at his penthouse. I blame the gin and tonic.

The next day I learn he’s Jack Hawke—bad-boy professional quarterback with a murky past.

The NDA he had me sign should have been a warning that he isn’t a regular person. Please. I signed it Juliet Capulet, so goodbye, famous football player with abs of steel, and good luck tracking down this small-town librarian.

But Jack keeps showing up in places I least expect him. Just when I’m sure he’s gone, he waltzes into my community theater and wins the part of Romeo to my Juliet.
How’s a plain, mostly innocent girl like me supposed to resist a man like him?

Is Jack my real Romeo…or will this gorgeous football player only break my heart? 

My Review...

Looking for an alpha male that is so used to everyone taking advantage of him that he does not know how to react when Elena does not use him for his fame or fortune?  Check out Jack Hawke a pro quarterback for a football team that Elena knows nothing about.   When they accidentally go out on a blind date sparks fly, the attraction is there, and they both do not know what to do about it.   Are you wondering how someone accidentally goes out on a blind date?  You will have to read the book to find out the answer to that.

 I loved Elena.   She has spunk, she is strong, but she has a sweet and innocent side to her.   While she puts Jack in his place more than once, she also understands that Jack is used to people using him for what he can get them, where he can take them, and what he does for a living.   Very few people know the real Jack Hawke and Elena wants to know that person.   

The small-town setting where most of the book takes place is so true to form.  Everyone knows everyone else, they gossip, drive by the house when a new car appears, and knows your coming and goings.   Daisy, the town, was the perfect place for Elena to live and for her story to be told.


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With everyone around me settling down, I’m happy to continue living my life single and carefree.

That is unless I can convince the concierge, Lucy Wilson at 425 Madison to finally take me up on that offer to go out on a date.

She’s beautiful, friendly, and her compassion for each and every one of the residents is admirable. Something tells me that she doesn’t see herself that way at all though.

This is why I’ve made it my mission to break her out of her overly cautious shell starting with a lucky penny and a $10 raffle ticket.

It was all supposed to be a little fun but when a large dose of lucky graces us, everything suddenly becomes unexpected.


He thinks I don’t see him, but I do. Oh yes, I’ve been aware of the all too good looking Kevin Harper for quite some time now.

The thing is, I’m not sure that we have enough in common and I sure don’t have the free time for a social life between my job and school. Dating? That’s pretty far down on the list of things I’d like to check off - not by choice.

That is until Kevin convinces me that a little fun is good for the soul.

What started as a $10 raffle ticket turned into a vacation in Vegas and a whole lot of expectations that neither of us saw coming.

I always believed in fairy tales, but I wonder if what we have is too good to be true. I can only hope that it’s true what they say…

After all, 425 Madison is the perfect place to fall in love.

My Thoughts…

Season 3 of the 425 Madison Series has arrived, and I am so extremely excited.     While this is part of a series each book is its own story. The setting of 425 Madison is the common thread.    Lauren Helms writes the first book for this season and she did it perfectly.

Unexpected Expectations is a little different in that the main characters, Kevin and Lucy, are not rich and privileged.   They are everyday working people, living in New York, and are trying to find their happy ever after.    They were very relatable, easy to like or not like, and interesting to see them with each other.    Kevin and Lucy flirted, went on a date, and then life got interesting.  

I highly recommend picking up any book in the 425 Madison series, but Unexpected Expectations by Lauren Helms is a wonderful place to start.    

A twisty, electrifying new thriller from the author of The New Neighbors and The Liar's Room...

The entire town thinks Sadie Saunders is dead. Missing now for a week, they say she was murdered. And they think they know who did it.

Aware of the suspicion that surrounds them - and one of them in particular - Sadie's five best friends vow to find out the truth. So they pack their bags and set off for the woods where Sadie was last seen.

But what starts as a search quickly turns into something more sinister. Each of them has a secret, and they all know more about Sadie's past than they are willing to admit. As the landscape opens up, and the darkness closes in, the reality of their situation begins to dawn on them.

It was never really a search party.
It was a witch hunt.

And not everyone is going to make it home.


My Thoughts…

The idea of 5 best friends trying to find out what happened to Sadie all while protecting each other and themselves was intriguing.   I loved that they each had their own stories to tell and were willing to tell them to the police.   As with any story told, I had no doubt that there was so much more to the story than what met the eye.  

I am a fan of Simon Lelic.   I have read his past books and loved them, found them unable to put down.     With The Search Party, I struggled a little bit with the text.   Maybe it was more the format.   The story was told by Sadie’s 5 best friends and a DI Fleet.   It seemed that the friends rambled on, sometimes reliving the same event as seen through different perspectives.    There was not much dialogue and that threw me off the story.  I wanted to connect with the characters, to feel their pain at the loss of their friend and to fear their fear while searching the woods.

 Simon Lelic has a talent of writing thriller stories.   There are twists, turns, ups, and downs.   Try as I might I cannot solve the who-dun-it but I enjoy taking the ride.

***Thank you Danielle Keir at Berkley and NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. 

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 1924. May Marshall is determined to spend the dog days of summer in self-imposed exile at her father’s farm in Keswick, Virginia. Following a naive dalliance that led to heartbreak and her expulsion from Mary Baldwin College, May returns home with a shameful secret only to find her father’s orchard is now the site of a lucrative moonshining enterprise. Despite warnings from the one man she trusts—her childhood friend Byrd—she joins her father’s illegal business. When authorities close in and her father, Henry, is arrested, May goes on the run.

May arrives in New York City, determined to reinvent herself as May Valentine and succeed on her own terms, following her mother’s footsteps as a costume designer. The Jazz Age city glitters with both opportunity and the darker temptations of cocaine and nightlife. From a start mending sheets at the famed Biltmore Hotel, May falls into a position designing costumes for a newly formed troupe of African American entertainers bound for Paris. Reveling in her good fortune, May will do anything for the chance to go abroad, and the lines between right and wrong begin to blur. When Byrd shows up in New York, intent upon taking May back home, she pushes him, and her past, away.

In Paris, May’s run of luck comes to a screeching halt, spiraling her into darkness as she unravels a painful secret about her past. May must make a choice: surrender to failure and addiction, or face the truth and make amends to those she has wronged. But first, she must find self-forgiveness before she can try to reclaim what her heart craves most. 

My Thoughts...

Oh, my.   This book is wonderful.   I saw the cover, knowing nothing about the story inside, and knew without a doubt that I had to read this book.   The rose gold foil drew my eye and the model was mysterious and I knew she had a story to tell.  Then the title, Etiquette for Runaways, that made me curious to where the story would take me.   

May, the main character, is intriguing.  She grew up without knowing what happen to her mother, she lost her brother, and her father was a moonshiner.   When she was forced to go out in the world and fend for herself, she found her way.   It was not easy, it was not pretty, but it was what she needed to do to keep herself alive.   I could feel how real her story was.   Liza Nash Taylor did not make this story all pretty and sweet, she told a story as May’s life really was, she told of the drugs, the business deals, and all that went along with that life.  The story took me on a ride, telling of a life that I could not ever imagine living.  

Etiquette for Runaways is Liza Nash Taylor’s debut book and I am now a fan of hers.  I cannot wait to read her next book.    I highly recommend picking up your own copy and reading the wonderful, realistic story.

**Thank you Ann-Marie Nieves at GetRedPR for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. 

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Purchase your own copy on Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Publisher's Summary

Young, overworked medical intern Sarah James has no time for sleuthing. Her elderly neighbors, the spunky Fog Ladies, have nothing but time.

When, one by one, old ladies die in their elegant apartment building in San Francisco, Sarah assumes the deaths are the natural consequence of growing old. The Fog Ladies assume murder.  

Mrs. Bridge falls off a stool cleaning bugs out of her kitchen light. Mrs. Talwin slips on bubbles in the bathtub and drowns. Suddenly, the Pacific Heights building is turning over tenants faster than the fog rolls in on a cool San Francisco evening.

Sarah resists the Fog Ladies' perseverations. But when one of them falls down the stairs and tells Sarah she was pushed, even Sarah believes evil lurks in their building.

Can they find the killer before they fall victim themselves?

©2019 Susan McCormick (P)2019 Susan McCormick


My Thoughts…

Audiobook Review…  This is the first book that I have listened to Robin LaRee Berry has narrated.   I love finding a new narrator and look forward to listening to more of her work.    Robin was able to take the story that Susan McCormick wrote and bring it to life.   She took a story that I did not know and pulled me right into it.    I could hear the emotions that the characters felt while understanding why they were feeling that way as I listened to the story.  

Book Review…   This is a mystery, a murder mystery actually.   Yet, it had a different feel that others I have read.   The thriller part of it was more relaxed, less electrifying, less scary.    I felt like because most of the characters were “old” that I struggled to connect as much as I would have.   The Fog Ladies was just a story to me, I did not become invested in the outcome although I was curious as to when they would figure out who was killing the tenants. 


I did not read The Fog Ladies, I listened to it in audiobook form.   Maybe because I could hear the emotions, I did find myself taking extra time to listen to one more chapter, a few more minutes.   The plot was easy to follow and liked how easy the story was to follow.  


Add The Fog Ladies to your MUST-LISTEN list on Goodreads

Purchase your own copy on Amazon or Audible


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